Tobacco Money Not Funding Anti-Smoking Programs
The Big Tobacco settlement money that's being used in Nebraska may not be going toward what people expected. In fact, a report estimates only 6% of the $38 million is used for anti-smoking programs.
Of the billions of dollars awarded to all 50 states in the U.S. from the 1998 Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement, around 2% is being used for smoking prevention. In Nebraska, $2.4 million goes to anti-tobacco spending; though the CDC recommends Nebraska allocate $21 million.
Marcy Thompson with the Metro Omaha Tobacco Action Coalition says only 9 out of 93 Nebraska counties have tobacco free groups. She says more money could increase compliance checks, and education for teens to never start smoking.
"We've done a lot with the funds we've gotten but there could be a lot more done if the money could be spread out to other coalitions throughout the state," said Thompson explained.
Nebraska is estimated to get a total of $107 million in 2013 from the settlement and tobacco tax revenues. Only 11% of the CDC’s recommendation is spent in Nebraska. In Iowa, $3.2 million or 8.7% of their Big Tobacco funds are used for anti-tobacco programs.
Those at the front of the fight say they see the progress on a tight budget, while battling the millions of dollars spent on advertising by tobacco companies. In 2010, $54 million was spent by tobacco companies in marketing in Nebraska, while $82.7 million was spent in Iowa.
"We don't tell stories we tell the truth and the truth is very impactful,” said Joan Friedman, the Coordinator of Tobacco Free Sarpy County. "I feel that we are doing a good job but I know we can always do more, and more funding would help those efforts."
The settlement money in Nebraska is going towards health related issues including mental health, substance abuse, juvenile services, developmental disabilities, and biomedical research.
To read the complete report go to: http://www.tobaccofreekids.org/content/what_we_do/state_local_issues/settlement/FY2013/1.%202012%20State%20Report%20-%20Full.pdf