Tobacco settlement money not going to anti-smoking programs

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) — A new report shows that states will spend less than 2% of tobacco settlement money on smoking prevention programs.

Under the 1998 Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement, every state in the nation was given a portion of this proceeds, and were expected to spend a minimum of the amount of money recommended by the Centers for Disease Control.

The annual report on how the money is spent uncovered that overall, states will spend just 2%- about $459 million of the $26 billion distributed- on programs that prevent people from smoking or help them quit.

In Massachusetts, the CDC recommended we spend $90 million on these programs in 2012, but we spent 4.6% of that: just $4.2 million.

The report’s findings have people wondering just where all the money is going.

“I'm curious to know where the rest of the money is spent,” Jane Lindfors of Longmeadow said. “I do think more needs to go for smoking cessation.”

“Depending on how much they are using toward it, they should use a lot more toward taking care of the cessation, helping with that problem,” Douglas Malley of Springfield said.

Funding to the Massachusetts Tobacco Control Program has been cut 65% since 2008. The report warns that states are missing an opportunity to cut costs on tobacco-related health care problems.

To put it in perspective, studies show that states can save $5 in tobacco-related medical costs for every dollar spent on these prevention and cessation programs, if the money is used as recommended.

Copyright 2014 WWLP TV. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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