Anti-tobacco groups are urging the state to spend more funds on tobacco-prevention programs.
In a report released Monday, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids said Kansas ranked 41st in the country for funding anti-tobacco programs, spending about $946,600 a year, or 2.9 percent of the $32.1 million recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The report — which also was backed by several other health groups, including the American Heart Association — comes on the 15th anniversary of the tobacco master settlement agreement, which was reached between tobacco companies and scores of states that had sued them. It says states “should increase funding for tobacco prevention programs to CDC-recommended levels, raise tobacco taxes and enact comprehensive smoke-free laws.”
The report says Kansas will collect about $154 million in revenue from the settlement funds this year and spend 0.6 percent of it on tobacco prevention. The report says tobacco companies spend $70.7 million each year on marketing tobacco products in the state.
“People think tobacco prevention is an issue of the past, that we’ve been there and done that,” said Jeff Willett, vice president for programs at the Kansas Health Foundation, which is promoting the report.
“They overestimate the progress and underestimate the impact tobacco has on our state.”
Willett says that the state has done well with the Kansas Indoor Clean Air Act, which was passed in 2010, but that improvement could be made in raising the price of tobacco products and funding more tobacco-cessation programs. Kansas’ cigarette tax is 79 cents a pack, below the national average of $1.53 a pack, according to the report.
Roughly one in every five Kansans smokes, Willett said, which has remained basically unchanged in the last 15 years.
“We’ve missed an opportunity to address the leading cause of preventable death in our state. ... Tobacco use is concentrated among lower income Kansans and is a driver of uncontrolled health care costs,” he said.
The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System – a statewide telephone survey conducted by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and funded by the Kansas Health Foundation – found that smoking rates increased among people who make between $15,000 and $24,999 a year since 1999 and stayed the same among those who make less than $15,000.
More than 30 percent of those who make less than $15,000 a year smoke, according to the survey.