In Tennessee, nearly one-in-six high school students and one-in-four adults are smokers. Photo credit: Rachel Elaine/Flickr.
The latest report on how well states are funding tobacco prevention and cessation efforts has Tennessee ranked in the back of the pack at 36th in the nation. According to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Tennessee will take in more than $400 million in tobacco revenue this year, while spending only $5 million to prevent children from starting and to help smokers quit. The group’s spokesman, John Schachter, says that’s less than 7 percent of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation. “There’s a lot of work to be done in Tennessee to be able to bring the youth smoking rate down and the adult smoking rate down and to be able to help people stop smoking and prevent kids from starting in the first place,” he stresses. In Tennessee, nearly one-in-six high school students and one-in-four adults are smokers with more than 11,000 related deaths each year. Nationwide, Schachter notes that states are collecting more than $25 billion this year from tobacco taxes and lawsuit settlement dollars, but are spending less than 2 percent of that on prevention and cessation programs. “And those numbers are indicative that those states are literally sacrificing the lives and health of kids,” he states. “And it’s something which doesn’t have to be the case.” Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, killing nearly a 500,000 Americans each year.