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The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and our partners recently released a report, “A Broken Promise to our Children: The 1998 State Tobacco Settlement 11 Years Later.” Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the U.S., killing more than 400,000 people and costing $96 billion in health care bills each year.

Although states will collect $25.1 billion in revenue from tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes this year, they only spend 2.3 percent of it on tobacco prevention and cessation programs. Montana is one of nine states that fund tobacco prevention and cessation programs at at least half of the levels recommended by the Centers for Disease Control. In 2009, Montana has spent $9.3 million and has committed $9.4 million for 2010. In 2010, this will be 67.3 percent of the recommended $13.9 million. While this ranks Montana fourth in the nation, we could do better.

Funding tobacco prevention and cessation programs is crucial in the fight to reduce the death toll caused by tobacco, saving both lives and money. Tobacco companies spend $20 to market tobacco products for every one dollar the states spend to fight tobacco use.

Only North Dakota is funding tobacco prevention and research at the level recommended by the Centers for Disease Control. It’s time all states, including Montana, step up and join North Dakota in fully funding tobacco prevention and cessation programs.

Kim R. Smarsh

Miles City

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