Remember when the states settled liability claims with the tobacco industry for the staggering sum of $200 billion over 20 years? That was 1998 and there were high hopes to use a meaningful amount of the money to fund tobacco prevention programs. Instead many states seem to have become as dependent on tobacco money as smokers are on tobacco itself. The overwhelming majority of funds are diverted to general revenues rather than attacking the problem at hand.
Four states, including North Carolina actually budget nothing at all for tobacco prevention. North Carolina pulls in more than $400 million from the settlement and tobacco excise taxes and used to spend tens of millions of dollars on successful prevention programs, according to the Winston-Salem Journal. But no longer.
Some public health advocates are campaigning to restore the funding. It’s interesting that they are doing so from a city whose name is the source for two major cigarette brands.
There was always something funny about the tobacco industry funding its own demise so it’s not so surprising how things have ended up.