Oklahoma 'on right track' with anti-tobacco program, state official says
BY RANDY KREHBIEL World Staff Writer
Friday, December 07, 2012
12/07/12 at 5:21 AM
A report on tobacco use prevention and cessation released Thursday shows Oklahoma is "on the right track," the executive director of the state's Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust says.
"Given this array of prevention and research issues to address, we're spending over 50 percent of what's available to us on tobacco," said Tracey Strader.
The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids rated states based on their 2013 budget year spending for tobacco use and cessation as a percentage of the amount the Centers for Disease Control say should be spent.
By that measure, Oklahoma ranked seventh, with $19.7 million budgeted for this year, or 43.8 percent of the $45 million the CDC says should be spent.
Alaska ranked first, at 101.6 percent. New Jersey, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Ohio are spending zero on tobacco programs, and Alabama's budget information was not available.
In 1998, tobacco companies agreed to a settlement expected to pay states an estimated $246 billion over 25 years for health-care costs and other damages resulting from tobacco use.
Although most states use at least some of that money for tobacco-related programs, Oklahoma was the only one to establish a constitutional endowment - the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust - which receives 75 percent of the state's annual payments.
Most of the remaining 25 percent is appropriated by the Legislature. To this point, the Legislature has spent 100 percent of its share on health-related activities.
The constitutional provision setting up the trust allows only earnings to be spent, creating a perpetual revenue stream for tobacco-use prevention and cessation programs, as well as medical research and health education and promotion.
For the current budget year, $26.8 million was certified for use by the tobacco trust. Of that, $7 million went for health communications, $6.3 million for medical research grants, $6 million for community tobacco control programs and $5 million for the Tobacco Help Hotline program.
The medical grants are primarily for cancer and adult stem cell research. That portion of the state's spending was not counted in Thursday's report.
Strader said Oklahoma has made progress in curbing tobacco use but still rates low in most categories because it began with such high usage rates.
"We are seeing change," Strader said. "The problem is we started much higher than other states. So when you rank us against other states in terms of our smoking rate we're still 47th, 48th.
"I was in California last year and remarked how excited I was that we had finally gotten below 25 percent on our smoking rate. We're at 23.7. And the guy I was talking to said, 'We started at 23.7 percent 20 years ago.' "
Original Print Headline: Stop-tobacco plan 'on right track'
Randy Krehbiel 918-581-8365