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Friday, December 12, 2014
National Report: Hawaii Ranks 5th in Protecting Kids from Tobacco
By News Release @ 12:22 PM :: 2662 Views :: Hawaii Statistics, Health Care

National Report: Hawaii Ranks 5th in Protecting Kids from Tobacco

States Challenged to Join Florida in Reducing Youth Smoking to Record Low

News release from Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

WASHINGTON, Dec. 11, 2014  -- Hawaii ranks 5th in the country in funding programs that prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit, according to a national report released today by a coalition of public health organizations.

The report challenges states to do more by shining the spotlight on Florida, which has cut its high school smoking rate to a record low 7.5 percent. The report details the lives and health care dollars each state could save if it brought its teen smoking rate down to Florida's.

If Hawaii reduced its high school smoking rate from 10.4 percent to 7.5 percent, it would prevent 13,100 kids from becoming adult smokers, saving 4,460 lives and $229.3 million in future health care costs. Today in Hawaii, tobacco annually claims 1,400 lives and costs the state $526 million in health care bills.

Other key findings for Hawaii include:

  • Hawaii will spend $7.5 million this year on tobacco prevention and cessation programs, which is 55 percent of the $13.7 million recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  • Hawaii will collect $168.6 million this year from the 1998 tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes but will spend only 4.5 percent of the money on tobacco prevention programs.
  • Tobacco companies spend $26.9 million per year to market their products in Hawaii – 3.6 times what the state spends on tobacco prevention.

Today's report, titled "Broken Promises to Our Children: A State-by-State Look at the 1998 State Tobacco Settlement 16 Years Later," was released by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Lung Association, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights.

The report assesses whether the states kept their promise to use a significant portion of their settlement funds – estimated to total $246 billion over the first 25 years – to fight tobacco use. The states also collect billions of dollars more each year from tobacco taxes.

Hawaii has been a leader in the fight against tobacco with a high cigarette tax ($3.20 per pack), a strong smoke-free workplace law and its tobacco prevention and cessation program.  However, Hawaii has cut funding for tobacco prevention by 30 percent in the past three years. To continue making progress, health advocates are calling on Hawaii to restore funding for tobacco prevention and also to increase the age of sale for tobacco products to 21.

"Hawaii has made tremendous progress in reducing tobacco use among young people and now needs to take the next step by increasing the age of sale for tobacco products to 21," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "It is within our reach to create a tobacco-free generation, but it will take bold action by leaders in Hawaii and every state."

Nationally, the report finds that:

  • Most states fail to adequately fund tobacco prevention and cessation programs. The states will collect $25.6 billion this year from the tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes but will spend only 1.9 percent of it ($490.4 million) on tobacco prevention programs.
  • States are falling woefully short of the CDC's recommended funding levels for tobacco prevention programs. Altogether, the states budgeted just 14.8 percent of the $3.3 billion the CDC recommends. Only two states – Alaska and North Dakota – are funding tobacco prevention programs at CDC-recommended levels.

Evidence shows tobacco prevention and cessation programs work to reduce smoking, save lives and save money. One study found that during the first 10 years of its tobacco prevention program, the state of Washington saved more than $5 in tobacco-related hospitalization costs for every $1 spent on the program.

Tobacco use is the No. 1 cause of preventable death in the United States, killing more than 480,000 people and costing the nation at least $289 billion in health care bills and lost productivity each year.

The full report and state-specific information can be found at www.tobaccofreekids.org/statereport.

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