"……when it comes to funding programs to protect kids from tobacco," said Matthew Myers, president of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids in a release reported in The State newspaper.
Whatever happened to that billion dollar tobacco settlement that was apportioned out to all the states for health programs and prevention initiatives on smoking?
"A Decade of Broken Promises: The 1998 State Tobacco Settlement Ten Years Later" directly answers this question. If you have children that live in the state of South Carolina, viewer discretion is advised.
- On November 23, 1998, 46 states settled their lawsuits against the nation’s major tobacco companies to recover tobacco-related health care costs, joining four states — Mississippi, Texas, Florida and Minnesota — that had reached earlier, individual settlements.
- These settlements require the tobacco companies to make annual payments to the states in perpetuity, with total payments estimated at $246 billion over the first 25 years.
- The tobacco settlements presented the states with a historic opportunity and unprecedented sums of money to attack the enormous public health problem posed by tobacco use in the United States.
- Ten years later, this report finds that most states have failed to keep their promise to spend a significant portion of the settlement funds on programs to protect kids from tobacco addiction and help smokers quit.
What about South Carolina’s ranking and budget?
- The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that South Carolina spend $62.2 million a year to have an effective, comprehensive tobacco prevention program. South Carolina currently receives $1.0 million a year for tobacco prevention and cessation, which includes both state and federal funds. This is 1.6% of the CDC’s recommendation and ranks South Carolina last among the states in the funding of tobacco prevention programs. South Carolina’s spending on tobacco prevention amounts to 0.9% of the estimated $114 million in tobacco-generated revenue the state collects each year from settlement payments and tobacco taxes.
- Under a 2000 agreement between the Legislature and then-Governor Jim Hodges (D), South Carolina securitized its future tobacco settlement proceeds by selling them to investors in exchange for a smaller lump sum payment. The $910 million raised was transferred into four trust funds. The Legislature is responsible for appropriating the money available from the trust funds annually for programs. No tobacco settlement funds have been dedicated to tobacco prevention since 2003.
If you are 18 years or older, please utilize your voice through phone or email to your respective Legislatures to ask why?