New Hampshire ranks 46th nationwide in funding programs that prevent kids from using tobacco and help smokers quit, according to a report released Dec. 14 by leading public health groups. According to a statement from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, “New Hampshire is spending $140,000 this year on tobacco prevention and cessation programs, which is just 0.8 percent of the $16.5 million recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),”
The report challenges states to do more to fight tobacco use – the nation's No. 1 preventable cause of death – and to confront the growing epidemic of youth e-cigarette use in America. In NH, 7.8 percent of high school students smoke cigarettes, while 23.8 percent use e-cigarettes, one of the highest rates in the nation. Tobacco use claims 1,900 NH lives and costs the state $729 million in health care bills annually, according to the statement.
Other key findings include:
- New Hampshire will collect $254.9 million in revenue this year from the 1998 tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend only 0.1 percent of the money on tobacco prevention programs.
- Tobacco companies spend $87.6 million each year to market their deadly and addictive products in NH – more than 625 times what the state spends on tobacco prevention. Nationwide, tobacco companies spend $9.5 billion a year on marketing – that's over $1 million every hour.
The report – "Broken Promises to Our Children: A State-by-State Look at the 1998 Tobacco Settlement 20 Years Later" – was released by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights and Truth Initiative. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the landmark 1998 legal settlement between the states and the tobacco companies, which required the companies to pay more than $200 billion over time as compensation for tobacco-related health care costs.
"New Hampshire is putting kids' health at risk and burdening taxpayers with higher tobacco-related health care costs by shortchanging tobacco prevention programs," says Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "We've made great strides in reducing smoking rates, but New Hampshire leaders cannot let their guard down as tobacco is still the No. 1 cause of preventable death and e-cigarettes threaten to addict another generation. To win this fight, New Hampshire should raise the tobacco age to 21 and do its part to make the next generation tobacco-free."
Nationwide, the U.S. has reduced smoking to record lows – 14 percent among adults and 7.6 percent among high school students. But tobacco use still kills more than 480,000 Americans and costs the nation about $170 billion in health care expenses each year.
The report also highlights the youth e-cigarette epidemic. Driven by the popularity of Juul, a sleek, easy-to-hide e-cigarette that is sold in sweet flavors and delivers a powerful dose of nicotine, e-cigarette use among U.S. high school students skyrocketed by 78 percent this year to 20.8 percent. In 2018, more than 3.6 million middle and high school students were current e-cigarette users – an alarming increase of 1.5 million in just one year.