A report released last week says Wyoming ranks 5th in funding efforts to prevent kids from becoming smokers and helping the ones who do smoke quit.
Sheridan County Tobacco Prevention Coordinator Shelly Araas explains how this is especially good news for Wyoming.
The annual report on state funding prevention programs is titled "A Broken Promise to Our Children: The 1998 State Tobacco Settlement 13 Years Later." Wyoming consistently ranks high in tobacco use, but the report says that they are funding programs to combat that statistic.
A media release from PR Newswire said Wyoming spends $5.4 million yearly in prevention programs, 40% less than the $9 million that the Center for Disease Control recommends. However, Alaska and North Dakota are the only states that fund tobacco prevention programs at the recommended level.
Araas says she works with entities throughout Sheridan County to raise awareness and prevent tobacco use.
In Wyoming, 22.1% of high school students smoke, and 600 kids become regular smokers each year, according to the report. Smoking kills 700 per year in Wyoming and costs $136 million in health care bills.
Nationwide, the report says 19.3% of adults and 19.5% of high school students smoke. Smoking and smoking-related illness kills 400,000 Americans each year, totaling $96 billion in medical bills.
“Wyoming has made a solid commitment and is again one of the top states when it comes to protecting kids from tobacco,” Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said in the release.
“Even in these difficult budget times, tobacco prevention is a smart investment that saves lives and saves money by reducing tobacco-related health care costs.”
Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the U.S. each year, and tobacco companies are still out-funding prevention efforts. Companies spend $24 million in Wyoming per year to market their products.
The state of Wyoming will collect $46 million in revenue from the 1998 tobacco settlement the report is based on and will spend 11.7% of it on prevention programs.
According to the report, that means Wyoming spends 12 cents of every dollar generated by tobacco revenue to fight it. Araas says in comparison to other states, Wyoming spends the money well.
The report was released by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the American Lung Association, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights.