An anti-smoking group is renewing its criticism of Iowa leaders for spending too little of the money from tobacco lawsuit settlements on smoking prevention programs. Peter Fisher, vice president of the Campaign for Tobacco-free Kids, says this is the seventh annual ranking of the states’ spending.
Fisher says Iowa ranks 30th in the U.S. in funding programs to protect kids from tobacco. Iowa spends five-point-six million dollars a year on tobacco prevention programs, just under 30-percent of the minimum amount recommended by the C-D-C for prevention in Iowa. He says Iowa should be spending between 20 and 48-million dollars on prevention every year.
Fisher says Iowa is under no legal obligation to spend the settlement money on smoking prevention, but he says the states implied the dollars would be funneled that direction when the suits were settled. He says about 25-percent of the money should go toward comprehensive statewide tobacco prevention programs, which are working well in states like California, Mississippi, Delaware and Maine. Fisher says “We know these programs work and Iowa should increase the amount it spends on such a program in the state legislature immediately.”
He says the money isn’t being embezzled or frittered away, but it’s simply going into other state programs. Many states put the money back into their general funds and some have put the money into other worthy health-related programs, but Fisher says, “no matter how worthy the programs you want to spend this money on, before you do that, you ought to address the problem that led you to getting this money in the first place through the lawsuit.” The group’s full report is on-line at: “tobaccofreekids.org”.