A coalition of anti-smoking groups has issued a report ranking Iowa 24th among the states for spending on smoking prevention and cessation programs.
“The good news about Iowa is that they actually increased spending for tobacco prevention this year by a couple million dollars,” says Danny McGoldrick of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “The bad news is that Iowa is still just spending 14 percent of what the (Centers of Disease Control) recommends for tobacco prevention programs that we know work to reduce tobacco use both among kids and adults.”
Iowa is spending $5.1 million this year on anti-tobacco programs, compared $3.1 million last year. Today’s report comes 15 years after U.S. states reached a multi-billion dollar settlement with tobacco companies.
“It would take less than 15 percent of the roughly $300 million that Iowa takes in in its tobacco taxes and settlement dollars to fund at the level recommended by the CDC and further reduce those 2600 Iowa kids who try their first cigarette every year,” McGoldrick says, “and the more than 4000 Iowans who die an early death from tobacco every year.”
The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids estimates tobacco companies spend about $18 on marketing for every dollar that states spending on tobacco prevention programs. McGoldrick says peer-to-peer programs that prompt teenagers to spread the anti-smoking message work best.
“Unfortunately we see still — despite the progress that we’ve made — that way too many kids are becoming smokers,” McGoldrick says. “They’re targeted by the tobacco companies, but we know we can counter that, but only if we invest in these programs to involve young people and get that message out there.”
Only two states — North Carolina and Alaska — have budgets for tobacco prevention programs that are as high as the Centers for Disease Control recommends. On average, states spend 13 percent of what the CDC recommends and the report shows Iowa is spending 14 percent. The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids estimates just over 18 percent of Iowa high school students smoke and about 18 percent of adult Iowans are smokers.