(Reuters) - Many U.S. state governments use little of the money they receive each year from tobacco taxes or legal settlements with cigarette makers to fund programs that could help people kick the habit or prevent them from becoming smokers, according to a new report released on Wednesday.
Each year, more than $25 billion flows into coffers in some states, both from state excise taxes on tobacco products and payments made under a 1998 landmark anti-smoking agreement with tobacco companies, the American Lung Association said in a report titled “State of Tobacco Control 2013.”
The association said in the 2013 fiscal year, states spent $462.5 million on smoking-prevention and other programs aimed at helping smokers quit, just over 10 percent of the recommended levels by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“States and federal policymakers must ... step up to fund programs and enact polices proven to reduce tobacco use,” said Paul Billings, senior vice president of the American Lung Association.
Only two states - North Dakota and Alaska - spent amounts close to the CDC recommendations.
Some states use most of the money toward their general budgets, said Erika Sward, an American Lung Association assistant vice president.
In the report, the association graded states on their spending on efforts to reduce tobacco use, with 42 states earning an “F” because they failed to invest even 50 percent of the amount of the money recommended by the CDC on prevention programs.
In New York, home to the highest cigarette tax in the country at $4.35 per pack, the state spent around $41 million in the fiscal year 2013 on smoking-prevention programs out of $2.3 billion in revenue generated by the taxes, Sward said.
Reporting by Kevin Gray