Michigan ranks 42nd nationally in funding smoking prevention

Dec 6, 2012

Michigan ranks among the worst states for funding anti-smoking programs.

Each year, the state collects over one billion dollars in tobacco taxes and settlement money from a 1998 tobacco company lawsuit.

A new report by the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids says Michigan only spends one tenth of one percent of that money on programs that reduce or prevent smoking.

As a result, the state has been ranked 42nd in spending money to keep kids away from cigarettes.

Danny McGoldrick is with the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, the group that published the report.

He says Michigan would regain any money spent on smoking prevention programs in saved healthcare costs down the road.

"It would only take about 10 percent of the tobacco revenue that Michigan is getting to fully fund a prevention program that we know will save lives," said McGoldrick.

McGoldrick recommends Michigan increase its tobacco tax to help fund more programs. The state currently taxes two dollars on each pack of cigarettes sold.

Jim Harrington is with with the American Lung Association in Michigan.  He says the he'd like to see more of the tobacco settlement money go towards smoking cessation programs.

"The state's got the funds, they just have not taken the responsibility to spend it on people that the industry has targeted," he said.

According to the CDC, about 14,000 Michiganders die each year as a result of smoking related illnesses.

-Elaine Ezekiel, Michigan Radio Newsroom