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Tobacco settlement money not going to smoking prevention

November 13, 2003
By: Aidian Holder
State Capital Bureau

When 47 states settled a lawsuit with the tobacco industry, public health advocates say they prepared for a massive campaign against youth smoking. But a new study shows that every state has raided its settlement to pay for other programs during hard economic times, and Missouri is one of five states that aren't spending any settlement money on smoking prevention. Aidian Holder has more.

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Missouri has recieved almost $700 million from tobacco companies in the two years since it started receiving money from its settlement agreement with the industry. Of that, just over $1 million was spent on tobacco prevention, and this year's budget doesn't allocate a single dollar to prevention programs.

Lawmaker's say they didn't have a choice -- with the tight budgets of the last few years, it was either use the tobacco money or endure further cuts to vital programs.

Tony Iallonardo is a spokesman for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. His organization just released a study showing that only four states are meeting the federal guidlines for spending settlement money on tobacco prevention.

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Contents: Iallonardo says the federal guidelines only require a fraction of the settlement money be spent on prevention and kids need the protection.

Iallonardo suggests raising tobacco taxes to pay for anti-smoking programs. Chief among the programs he and other public health advocates would like to see are anti-tobacco ad campaigns aimed at kids.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, tobacco companies spent more than $200 million on advertising in Missouri last year, and Janet Wilson, chief of Missouri's public health improvment unit, says public health groups need more money to compete with the tobacco industry.

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Contents: Wilson says public health agencies are at a disadvantage in their fight against youth smoking because of the industry's advertising.

Wilson says Missouri consistently has smoking rates above the national average.

From the state Capitol, I'm Aidian Holder.

Date: 11/13/2003

By: Aidian Holder

State Capital Bureau

When states settled their multi-billion dollar lawsuit against the tobacco industry, public health advocates say they expected a massive campaign against youth smoking. But as Aidian Holder reports, Missouri isn't spending any of its settlment money on smoking prevention.

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Missouri has received almost $700 million from tobacco companies in the last two years. Of that, just over $1 million was spent on tobacco prevention last year, and this year's budget doesn't allocate any money to prevention programs.

Tony Iallonardo, a spokesman for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, says Missouri's not alone.

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Contents: Iallonardo says many states are raiding their settlements to deal with deficits.

Iallonardo says he'd like to see anti-smoking ad campaigns targeted at kids.

The Centers for Disease Control estimates the tobacco industry spent more than $200 million last year on advertising in Missouri, and Iallonardo says the state needs to counter that message.

From the state Capitol, I'm Aidian Holder.