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PA Weak On Anti-Smoking, Report Says

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Unprotected, a report claims.

LOWER POTTSGROVE PA – Pennsylvania currently spends $33.2 million a year on tobacco prevention programs, but a report released Tuesday (Nov. 18, 2008) claims that’s not enough.

The report on states’ tobacco prevention efforts, titled “A Decade of Broken Promises,” was published by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Lung Association, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Its title refers to the 10-year period since November 1998, when 46 states settled lawsuits against the nation’s major tobacco companies to recover tobacco-related health care costs. The settlements require tobacco companies to make annual payments to the states in perpetuity. The report claims most states failed to use a significant portion of the money to fund anti-smoking programs and help smokers quit.

In Pennsylvania, 17.5 percent of high school students smoke, the report said. If extrapolated locally, those statistics suggest that more than 150 Pottsgrove High School students are smokers.

The amount Pennsylvania invests in tobacco prevention programs for kids is “modest,” says a spokesman for the groups, in light of the fact that tobacco companies annualy spend 17 times more money, about $553 million a year, to market their products in the state.

Photo by Ella Kihrer

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