Money Being Diverted To Balance Budget, Advocates Say
8:07 AM, Nov 30, 2011
A report from an anti-tobacco group said Indiana and other states have broken their promise to combat smoking among children and adults.The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids accused the state of diverting millions of dollars from the anti-smoking efforts to other areas.Indiana takes in about $600 million in tobacco taxes and legal payments from the tobacco companies annually, RTV6's Norman Cox reported.The state only spends about $10 million to fight tobacco use which is less than 13 percent of the amount recommended by the federal Centers for Disease Control.Tobacco-Free Kids Vice President Danny McGoldrick said the funding for the states program should be restored."Indiana's had a very effective tobacco prevention program. But funding for that program has been cut by a third in recent years. To continue its progress in reducing smoking, Indiana needs to restore funding for its tobacco prevention program and pass a statewide smoke-free law that protects the right of Hoosiers to breathe clean air in all workplaces, restaurants, and bars, McGoldrick said.Karla Sneegas with the Indiana State Department of Health said funding has actually increased in the last year."We've actually maintained the level of spending from the last biennium. We were able to use some additional funds from our trust fund this past year for this current biennium to maintain our budget as it was, Sneegas said. Former Indiana Health Commissioner Richard Feldman said the state has had to drastically reduce effective anti-tobacco efforts like the TV spots it used to run frequently.Feldman said Indiana and other states have broken their promise on how to spend their tobacco money.We're spending less than two percent on tobacco prevention and cessation. I think that's just a sad commentary on what's going on in this country and the priorities," he said.Health officials said theyre still making progress because the smoking rate has fallen from 26 percent to 21 percent in the last two years.