Ten years after the November 1998 state tobacco settlement, South Carolina ranks worst in the nation in funding programs to protect kids from tobacco, according to a national report released today by a coalition of public health organizations.
South Carolina this year is scheduled to spend $1 million on tobacco prevention programs, which is 1.6 percent of the $62.2 million recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). All of this funding is from a federal grant. South Carolina is the only state that is spending no state funds on tobacco prevention this year.
Other key findings for South Carolina include:
- The tobacco companies spend more than $280 million a year on marketing in South Carolina. This is more than 280 times what the state spends on tobacco prevention.
- South Carolina this year will collect $114 million from the tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend less than 1 percent of it on tobacco prevention.
The annual report on states' funding of tobacco prevention programs, titled "A Decade of Broken Promises," was released by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Lung Association and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
South Carolina continues to lag behind other states in its efforts to protect kids from the dangers of tobacco. In addition to years of inadequate tobacco prevention funding, the state has the lowest cigarette tax in the nation at 7 cents per pack, compared to the national average of $1.19 per pack. The state has not increased its cigarette tax in two decades despite widespread support for an increase among South Carolinians. In contrast, 44 states and the District of Columbia have increased cigarette taxes since Jan. 1, 2002, many more than once.
"South Carolina is the most disappointing state in the nation when it comes to funding programs to protect kids from tobacco," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "On this 10th anniversary of the tobacco settlement, we call on South Carolina leaders to raise the state's lowest-in-the-nation cigarette tax and use some of the revenue to increase funding for tobacco prevention. Tobacco prevention is a smart investment that reduces smoking, saves lives and saves money by reducing tobacco-related health care costs."