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Study blasts states on tobacco fund use

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http://www.boston.com/news/nation/artic ... _fund_use/

Prevention money spent elsewhere, organizations say

By Jonathan M. Katz, Associated Press | December 1, 2005

WASHINGTON -- Just a fraction of the money that states received from tobacco settlements and taxes is being used to prevent smoking, advocacy groups reported in a study yesterday.

The report, ''A Broken Promise to Our Children," was released by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, and American Lung Association.

Some $551 million is allocated for tobacco-use prevention programs in the 2006 budget year, the study said. That pales in comparison with the $1.6 billion recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Vince Willmore, spokesman for the campaign.

Even that amount would represent a small part of the $21.3 billion available to states this year from the 1998 tobacco settlement and state tobacco taxes.

Only Maine, Colorado, Delaware, and Mississippi spend at least the minimum levels recommended, the study said.

Massachusetts is spending $4.3 million on prevention programs, just 12 percent of the CDC's minimum recommendation of $35.24 million.

Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Tennessee, and the District of Columbia spend no state funds at all, the report found, while 30 other states fund at less than half of the recommended amount.

States use tobacco-related funds to pay off budget shortfalls, and for capital campaigns and construction projects, the report said.

States also get prevention money from the CDC. The funding average is about $1 million per state, said Dr. David Nelson of the CDC.

State minimums, based on population size and need, range from $7.3 million for Wyoming to about $165 million for California.

Ballot initiatives forcing states to spend tobacco tax or settlement money on prevention programs could solve these shortfalls in the future, advocates said.

Colorado, which passed such an initiative as part of a tax increase in 2004, showed the biggest progress. The state's prevention spending rose to $27 million from $4.3 million last year, Willmore said. The CDC minimum for Colorado is $24.6 million.

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They were talking about that on our local news last night. They said they did a survey and found that 29% of our High School students in Minnesota smoke. They interviewed some. One girl ,15 years old, said she has been smoking for 4 years. A 17 year old boy when asked how he got cigarettes ( as it is illegal to sell cigarettes to those under 18 in Minnesota) said he had friends 18 that got them for him. They said the money had been used for other parts of the state budget. Donna G

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