Ohio Ranks 30th in Funding Tobacco Prevention Programs

(Ohio) – A new report suggests Ohio ranks 30th nationwide in funding programs that prevent kids from using tobacco and help smokers quit.

The report released by leading public health groups challenges states to do more to fight tobacco use, which is the number one preventable cause of death. The report also urges states to confront the growing epidemic of e-cigarette use in America.

Statistics show that while lower in individual counties and communities, statewide, in Ohio, 15.1 percent of high school students still smoke cigarettes. Meanwhile, tobacco use continues to claim the lives of more than 20,000 Ohioans annually and costs the state around $5.6 billion in health care bills.

The report also indicates Ohio is anticipating a collection of $1.3 billion in revenue from the 1998 tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes but will spend only 1 percent of that money on tobacco prevention programs. Additionally, on average tobacco companies spend more than $424 million annually to market their products in Ohio. That’s more than 32 times what the state is spending on tobacco prevention.

This year also marks the 20th anniversary of the landmark 1998 legal settlement between the states and the tobacco companies that required the companies to pay more than $200 billion over time to compensate the states for tobacco-related health care costs.

With these statistics in mind, the authors of the report stress the ongoing need for stronger tobacco prevention efforts in the state of Ohio, which continues to have some of the highest high school (15.1 percent) and adult (21.1 percent) smoking rates in the nation.

It’s important to note that nationwide, the U.S. has reduced smoking to record lows – 14 percent among adults and 7.6 percent among high school students, but the habit continues to kill more than 480,000 Americans and cost the nation roughly $170 billion in health care expenses annually.

The report also dives into the youth e-cigarette epidemic. Officials note the growing concern is fueled by the growing popularity of Juul, a sleek, attractive and easy-to-hide e-cigarette that is sold in sweet flavors and delivers a powerful dose of nicotine. Use of the e-cigarette umped by 78 percent this year to 20.8 percent of U.S. high school students use. Even more concerning, in many local reports, students do not associate e-cigarettes with tobacco use.

With $13 million annually being spent on tobacco prevention and cessation programs, Ohio is falling short of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recommendation to spend $132 million a year towards efforts.

The report and more state-specific information can be found here.

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