The spokesman for an anti-tobacco group says Iowa’s not spending all the money it’s should be on tobacco prevention. The national “Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids” has an update on the states that received money from court-ordered tobacco settlements. The group’s director Peter Fischer says we’re below the median in that spending. Iowa’s ranked 29th, Fischer says, spending about five-Million dollars a year compared with a CDC estimate that we should be spending 19-Million dollars. Economic woes have had the states looking at the tobacco settlement money as a way to solve more pressing problems, and Fischer says Iowa’s no exception. The states have cut tobacco-prevention funding by 20-percent the last 3 years, and though they get 20-Billion a year from the settlement and cigarette taxes he says they’re spending only a little over 500-Million of that on tobacco prevention. With the economy recovering Fischer says the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is hoping to see the spending on non-smoking programs rebound. The group wants states to allocate the money whether their own budgets are in deficit or flush with money, saying it’s “penny-wise and pound-foolish not to do so.” Fischer says spending the money on tobacco-prevention programs works, and will result in fewer people smoking. If you reduce smoking you’ll reduce healthcare costs because there will be fewer smoking-related diseases like heart attacks and lung cancer — and in turn reducing healthcare costs will produce “dramatic overall budget saving.” In the longterm, Fischer says it proves that spending money on anti-tobacco programs is a good investment.
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