South Carolina’s No. 1! Again!

This just in, from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids:

National Report Ranks South Carolina Last in Protecting Kids from Tobacco

Ten Years After Tobacco Settlement, States Falling Short in Funding Tobacco Prevention

Washington, DC (November 18, 2008) – 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.”
    On Nov. 23, 1998, 46 states settled their lawsuits against the nation’s major tobacco companies to recover tobacco-related health care costs, joining four states (Mississippi, Texas, Florida and Minnesota) that had reached earlier settlements. These settlements require the tobacco companies to make annual payments to the states in perpetuity, with total payments estimated at $246 billion over the first 25 years.  The states also collect billions of dollars each year in tobacco taxes.
    The new report finds that most states have broken their promise to use a significant portion of their tobacco money to fund programs to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit.
    According to the report, the states in the last 10 years have received $203.5 billion in revenue from the tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes.  But they have spent only 3.2 percent of this tobacco money – $6.5 billion – on tobacco prevention and cessation programs.
     Other findings of the report include:

  • In the current year, no state is funding tobacco prevention at CDC-recommended levels, and only nine states fund their programs at even half of the CDC recommendation.
  • 41 states and the District of Columbia are funding tobacco prevention programs at less than half the CDC-recommended amount. These include 27 states that are providing less than a quarter of the recommended funding.
  • Total state funding for tobacco prevention this year, $718.1 million, amounts to less than three percent of the $24.6 billion the states will collect from the tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes. It would take just 15 percent of this tobacco revenue to fund tobacco prevention programs in every state at CDC-recommended levels.

    The report warns that the nation faces two immediate challenges in the fight against tobacco use: complacency and looming state budget shortfalls. First, while the nation has made significant progress over the past decade in reducing smoking, progress has slowed and further progress is at risk without aggressive efforts at all levels of government. Second, the states are expected to face budget shortfalls in the coming year as a result of the weak economy. The last time the states faced significant budget shortfalls, they cut funding for tobacco prevention programs by 28 percent between 2002 and 2005. The cutbacks are a major reason why smoking declines subsequently stalled, and states should not make the same mistake again.
    The report found that there is more evidence than ever that tobacco prevention programs work to reduce smoking, save lives and save money by reducing tobacco-related health care costs. Washington State, which has been a national leader in funding tobacco prevention, has reduced smoking by 60 percent among sixth graders and by 43 percent among 12th graders since the late 1990s. A recent study found that California’s tobacco control program saved $86 billion in health care costs in its first 15 years, compared to $1.8 billion spent on the program, for a return on investment of nearly 50:1.
    In South Carolina, 17.8 percent of high school students smoke, and 6,300 more kids become regular smokers every year. Each year, tobacco claims 5,900 lives and costs the state $1.1 billion in health care bills.
     More information, including the full report and state-specific information, can be obtained at
(NOTE: The CDC recently updated its recommended funding for state tobacco prevention programs, taking into account new science, population increases, inflation and other cost factors.  In most cases, the new recommendations are higher than previous ones.  This report is the first to assess the states based on these new recommendations.)

13 thoughts on “South Carolina’s No. 1! Again!

  1. Brad Warthen

    Tom, Dick and Harry.
    Or were you being serious?
    Doug, at every opportunity that our Legislature has had — deciding how to spend the money from the big settlement with Big Tobacco to the latest failure to increase cigarette taxes — the Legislature has decided the opposite of what would benefit kids.
    The only name that comes to mind is Mark Sanford, who vetoed the cigarette tax increase. He is the single individual who is most culpable in that recent outrage. But the Legislature failed to override him.
    If you want to know the names of every individual who ever voted the wrong way, I can’t help you. I shouldn’t have taken the time to post this, because I’ve got too much work to do. If fact, I shouldn’t even try to maintain a blog, but I do. Sort of.

  2. Doug Ross

    The settlement was in 1998. Sanford took office in 2003.
    Instead of taking the easy way out and blaming Sanford, why won’t you name the specific legislators who are holding up the passage of the tax increase. All it takes is a two thirds majority to override the veto.
    Here’s what Sanford said when issuing the veto in May:
    “In a news conference held Tuesday, Sanford called the bill “irresponsible” in the way it would spend the extra money created by the tax increase.
    “We’ve been calling for an increase to the cigarette tax for five years, but the questions has always been, what happens to the money?” Sanford said.”

    The governor has every right to act as a steward of the funds collected by the increased tax. What did the legislature do to try and work with the Governor on a bill that would have been signed?

  3. p.m.

    South Carolina last in protecting kids from tobacco?
    I had no idea baby goats smoked.
    Or is it that baby goats chew tobacco?
    Seriously, next topic, please. Protecting children from tobacco is the job of parents and teachers, at NO cost, not Mark Sanford and the Legislature at a cost of $62.2 million.
    Unless you think “Just Say No” has freed America from cocaine, crack and meth.

  4. Brad Warthen

    I have the names of the three True Culprits right here, on my desk, but I am NOT going to share them. You know why? Because first Doug demands names, then if I give him a name, he argues with it.
    Folks, I cited two of many failures by S.C., the first a decade ago, the second this year. I said if you want a name on the second one, you can have Mark Sanford, but that really a lot more people other than him are to be blamed.
    So what does Doug do? Argue that the Mark Sanford WAS NOT to blame for the first example. Which causes me to ask, Who Said He Was?
    By the way, I’m just kidding about having the names here. That was irony again.

  5. Doug Ross

    No problem, Brad. No sense trying to do something about the smoking issue if you feel the tax should be raised. It’s not like your the editor of the largest newspaper in the state.
    I’m trying to figure out what your intent was in posting the “news” from an obviously biased source. As p.m. has mentioned, apparently you believe the government is not doing enough of taking on the responsibility of stopping kids from smoking. How much would you like the government to spend?
    You should take a look at the front page of The State this week. At least the news department is willing to name names in the DHEC articles.

  6. Birchibald T. Barlow

    Let’s cut funds to higher education but keep the cigarette tax far below anywhere else in the country. That’s our beloved state for you.
    We’re really going places.

  7. p.m.

    “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.”
    Would someone have us match the tobacco companies dollar for dollar when we’re already more than $400 million short of funding existing programs?
    When we’re worrying about laying off teachers, someone would have us buy more ads demonstrating the dangers of tobacco?
    Here’s an idea: Let’s close the schools and buy Brad some allergy insurance.
    Irony, Mr. Warthen. Merely irony.

  8. Lee Muller

    The legislature got over $200,000,000 in the tobacco settlement. Governor Hodges sold the 20-year note at a deep discount to get the cash up front to spend.
    There is still millions of the money left.
    The legislature just chooses to not spend it on tobacco-related illnesses or on anti-smoking campaigns.

  9. Capital A

    Mark it down, mark it down. On November 18, 2008, at 11:11:29, Ele Ulmler spoke the truth. I almost can hear the sound of atoms splitting and chemical bonds shifting as reality threatens permanent alteration.
    It may have been mentioned, but no tobacco settlement funds have been used for tobacco prevention since 2003. Just when is Tobacco-toto going to start barking at that idiotic old man behind the curtain who has taken on two guises I know of so far: Jim (Ugh!) Hodges and our current Goobernor?

  10. Lee Muller

    The TRUTH is that there has been about $2,000,000 spent every year on tobacco education.
    It was Governor Hodges who sold the tobacco settlements for a lump sum, at a big discount, to Wall Street bankers.
    The lump sum generates about $114,000,000 a year.
    The legislature diverts $112,000,000 to non-tobacco-related projects.

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