According to a new report carried out by a coalition of health groups, State Legislatures are generating record profits from tobacco giants and tobacco taxes but have been cutting the expenses on smoking programs more and more, and particularly in the state of New York.
The report, named “A Broken Promise to Our Children,” claims that governments had cut expenses by 15 percent, as they have spent a total of $567 million for smoking prevention and cessation programs in the fiscal year that ended in September.
On average, states have spent on prevention programs just 2.3 percent of nearly $25 billion generated from tobacco taxes and payments from the settlement agreement concluded with tobacco industry back in1998, the coalition claimed in their annual report.
Janice Payton, vice president of American Cancer Association said that it a complete non-sense that only a diminutive part of money collected from tobacco industry and taxes is virtually used to help people get rid of habit.
Under the current federal laws, state governments are not obliged to spend the tax money on programs related to smoking. Meantime, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, state governments had to fill an aggregate budget hole of $145 billion in 2008 due to huge profit drops.
Report demonstrates that the tobacco-related profits have increased significantly as many stets have hike tobacco taxes to offset budget gaps.
The state of New York is home to the most significant cuts to programs related to smoking cessation, reducing the expenses by 31 percent, or more than $25 million, although they had very efficient cessation programs which helped to lower smoking rates to below nationwide level.
Other governments that reduced expenses on smoking-related programs by more than a half include Pennsylvania, Colorado, Washington and Maryland. According to the report, only North Dakota has not cut expenses on the programs, and kept programs at the rate advised by the Center for Disease Control.
NY State Governor David Paterson admitted that the State Ways and Means Committee had to cut the expenses on such programs to transfer the generated revenues to the general budget, to fill the $3 billion deficit.
Governor’s spokesman said they had to cut the funding due to an unprecedented fiscal emergency that the state is currently experiencing.
He mentioned that the State nevertheless managed to spend nearly $50 million on the cessation programs, as they have cut the expenses on advertisements only, but the quit lines have been working successfully.
However, the spokesman for the coalition of anti-smoking groups which made up the report said the budget holes can not be used to justify the cuts on prevention and cessation programs, since the generated tobacco-related revenues have grown.
According to a recent report by CDC, nationwide adult smoking rates has grown 1 percent in comparison to last year and is at nearly 21 percent. In addition, adolescent smoking rates sink from 36 percent to 20 percent.