By Mary Kuhlman
The latest report on how well states are funding tobacco prevention and cessation efforts has Indiana ranked 35th in the nation.
According to the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, Indiana will take in $565 million in tobacco tax and settlement revenue this year - but will spend less than $6 million to help smokers quit and prevent kids from starting.
Kathy Drea, vice president for advocacy at the American Lung Association in Indiana, said it's a particular concern when the state's smoking rate is higher than the national rate of 18 percent.
"Almost 22 percent of adults smoke," she said, "so Indiana really should be spending quite a bit more because they do have such a high smoking prevalence rate, compared to the rest of the country."
According to the report, smoking contributes to more than 11,000 deaths in Indiana, and nearly $3 billion in annual health-related costs. The tobacco industry spends $217 million annually to market its products in Indiana.
For every $1 states receive in tobacco revenue, the report said, less than 2 cents is spent on prevention and cessation efforts. In Indiana, Drea said, it's less than 8 percent of the spending recommended by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"These are broken promises to our children," Drea said. "The tobacco settlement was supposed to end the addiction to tobacco, and it certainly has not. The money has not been used to end the death and disease caused by tobacco use."
The report pointed to Florida as an example other states should follow. John Schachter, director of communications for the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, said Florida cut its high school smoking rate in half - from 15 percent to 7.5 percent - by adequately funding tobacco prevention through a voter-approved ballot initiative.
"We would actually save 2.3 million lives, over $120 billion in health-care costs," he said. "We would prevent 7 million kids from becoming adult smokers, if we can get every state to just achieve Florida's rate, let alone go beyond that."
Schachter said Indiana's 13 percent high school smoking rate is in line with the national average.