December 13, 2017

Report: CT again ties for last in protecting kids from tobacco

Connecticut joins West Virginia as one of the only two states that provide no funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs, according to a report released today by public health advocates.

It's the second straight year Connecticut has tied for last in not providing funding. The report – "Broken Promises to Our Children: A State-by-State Look at the 1998 Tobacco Settlement 19 Years Later" – was released by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights and Truth Initiative.

The report says states must do more to fight tobacco use – the nation's leading cause of preventable death – and make the next generation tobacco-free. In Connecticut, 10.3 percent of high school students smoke, and 1,300 kids become regular smokers each year. Tobacco use claims 4,900 Connecticut lives and costs the state $2 billion in health care bills annually, the report said.

The report also noted Connecticut will collect $516.3 million in revenue this year from the 1998 tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend none of the money on tobacco prevention programs. It noted tobacco companies spend $69 million each year to market their products in Connecticut.

The state's high tobacco tax ($3.90 per pack) is helpful, the report said, but added Connecticut is hindering its own progress in reducing smoking by refusing to fund its programs. In addition to increasing funding for tobacco prevention, health advocates are urging Connecticut lawmakers to increase the state's tobacco age to 21.

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