States are “penny-wise and pound-foolish” when it comes to public health and spending money, warns anti-tobacco advocate

In 1998, 46 states and several U.S. territories came to a groundbreaking settlement with major tobacco companies. The “Master Settlement Agreement” set rules restricting tobacco marketing and sales, while also requiring the industry to pay states billions of dollars annually — amounts intended to help local governments defray the economic toll stemming from tobacco use.

But 23 years later, as states finalize their fiscal 2022 spending plans, those tobacco settlement revenues are generally being counted on to balance the budget — not to fund stop-smoking programs or treat smoking-related health problems, such as lung cancer, even as an alarming uptick in vaping among high schoolers has anti-tobacco groups worried.

Kentucky plans to balance its general fund budget next year with $103 million from its tobacco settlement revenues. In Kansas, settlement revenues will go toward “various children’s programs.” And Connecticut counts its money as just another general fund revenue source.

Read full article here.

Andrea Riquier – MarketWatch – 2021-06-30.

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