There’s been an 11 percent drop in the nation’s smoking rate from 1997 to ’99 — but Iowa’s smoking rate dropped only four percent during that period. Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller says states which have aggressive, government-sponsored anti-smoking campaigns are more successful in curbing smoking.Miller and Governor Vilsack suggest using about 10-million dollars from the state’s “tobacco settlement” money on an anti-smoking campaign. Republican legislators next week will make a decision on how to use the 74-million Iowa will get this year from the cigarette-makers.Miller says five-thousand Iowans die each year from smoking-related illnesses.Over the next 25 years, Iowa will be paid an estimated two-BILLION dollars from tobacco companies as a result of the lawsuit brought by the state.Governor Tom Vilsack is pressuring Republican legislators to commit 12-and-a-half million dollars of the tobacco settlement money to substance abuse programs. To bolster his arguement, Vilsack staged a news conference at the “House of Mercy” in Des Moines, a home for women with children who’re putting their lives back together after getting off drugs.Vilsack says by spending more on substance abuse treatment programs, the state avoids higher costs — such as prison time for those who get so caught up in the drug culture they can’t get out.Republicans say they do intend to spend some of the tobacco settlement dollars on substance abuse programs, but they haven’t agreed upon what amount.Vilsack says for every dollar spent on substance abuse treatment, the state saves four-dollars that would otherwise be spent in the state’s prisons and hospitals dealing with substance abusers who get worse.
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