Sixteen years after the state tobacco settlement, the story is one of broken promises.
The money collected by the states after settling their lawsuits against the major tobacco companies in November 1998 was intended to help fight the public health issues created by tobacco use.
Instead, the states have shortchanged the tobacco prevention and cessation programs that have proven effective. Indiana’s record is shameful, with the General Assembly continually raiding money intended to pay for smoking cessation efforts and public initiatives aimed at helping smokers kick the habit. Last year lawmakers cut tobacco prevention and control funding to $5.8 million, which is about 7.8 percent of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendation of $73.5 million.
The latest report from Tobacco-Free Kids holds further grim statistics from the Hoosier state:
Adults who die each year from their own smoking: 11,100.
Kids now under 18 and alive in Indiana who will ultimately die prematurely from smoking: 151,000.
The annual health care costs in Indiana directly caused by smoking: $2.93 million.
Smoking-caused productivity losses in Indiana: $2.62 billion.
Residents’ state and federal tax burden from smoking-causes government expenditures: $563 per household.
You would think that the personal and financial costs associated with smoking would make defeating such a public health enemy a priority. In Indiana, you would be wrong.
This was distributed by Hoosier State Press Association. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.