A national anti-smoking activist says Nebraska’s government leaders aren’t doing nearly enough to help smokers quit or to keep kids from starting.
Carter Steger, a senior director for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, says Nebraska isn’t following through on its promises to invest a certain percentage of its winnings from the landmark 1998 tobacco court settlement in prevention programs.
Steger says, “Nebraska is only spending just a little under $3-million on tobacco prevention and control. The Centers for Disease Control recommends Nebraska should be spending $21.5-million, so you can see Nebraska has a lot of room to grow. That’s only 13.7% and that’s actually down from the 2010 figures.”
She says Nebraska had agreed to spend significantly more money on programs to help smokers quit and on keeping kids from taking up smoking — but the state’s not under any legal obligation to do so. Steger says Nebraska would see many positive returns if it raised the state cigarette tax.
“For every 10% increase in the price of tobacco, you see a 7% decrease in youth smoking rates and a 4% decrease in adult consumption,” Steger says. “In addition, you get the revenue at the state level that could help fund tobacco prevention programs.”
Steger says tobacco use is the nation’s number-one cause of preventable death, killing more than 400,000 Americans every year and costing nearly $100 billion in health care bills.
She says 2,200 Nebraskans will die this year from smoking-related diseases. The state also has a higher-than-average number of high school students who smoke. A report this year finds 22.3% of Nebraska high schoolers smoke, while the national average is 20%.
Steger says a new study from the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, called “Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids,” finds states have cut tobacco prevention funding to the lowest level since 1999, the first year they received settlement funds. It says states cut prevention funds by 28% in the last three years, despite receiving huge amounts of revenue from the tobacco industry.
Learn more at: www.acscan.org