WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. state tobacco control programs are effective at cutting the number of smokers, and states that spend more get the best results, federal health officials said on Tuesday.
Declines in adult smoking rates in individual states are directly related to increases in state per-capita investments in tobacco control and smoking cessation programs, according to a study published in the American Journal of Public Health.
Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and an independent research institute analyzed data on smoking rates and tobacco control spending in all 50 states from 1995 to 2003.
The advocacy group Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids said the states will spend about $717 million in fiscal year 2008 on tobacco control and smoking cessation programs.
These programs include advertising on the hazards of smoking, school- and community-based anti-smoking efforts, and steps like creating toll-free telephone lines to help people quit.
The study found that the more states spent on programs, the larger the declines they achieved in adult smoking rates, independent of other factors like higher tobacco prices.
“The greater the investment, the larger the effect,” said Terry Pechacek of the CDC Office of Smoking and Health.
But as of last year, just three states were funding their tobacco control programs at levels recommended by the CDC, the agency said.
If states had funded their programs at the levels recommended by the CDC from 1995 to 2003, there would have been between 2.2 million and 7.1 million fewer smokers in the United States by 2003, the study found.
The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids said such smoking declines would have saved between 700,000 and 2.2 million lives and between $20 billion and $67 billion in health care costs.
Editing by Xavier Briand