Broken Promises Report Shows Kids in New Mexico Hurt Following Raiding of Tobacco Settlement Fund; Raising Tobacco Tax Needed to Prevent Youth Addiction
Santa Fe, NM – December 14, 2016— The 18th annual “Broken Promises to Our Children: A State-by-State Look at the 1998 Tobacco Settlement 18 Years Later” was released today and shows New Mexico lags behind the rest of the country when it comes to spending adequate funding on tobacco prevention and cessation programs.
The report was issued by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights and the Truth Initiative.
According to the Broken Promises Report, New Mexico ranks 18th nationwide in funding programs to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit. New Mexico is spending $5.7 million this year on tobacco prevention and cessation programs, which is just one quarter of the $22.8 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 cause of preventable death – and help make the next generation tobacco-free. In New Mexico, 11.4 percent of high school students still smoke, and 1,000 kids become regular smokers each year. Tobacco use claims 2,600 New Mexico lives and costs the state $844 million in health care bills annually.
In the final hours of this year’s special session, New Mexico lawmakers broke a promise to protect future generations from deadly tobacco addiction by draining the $220 million Tobacco Settlement Permanent Fund to fix the state budget crisis. Meanwhile, the tobacco industry continues spending an estimated $34.8 million a year on marketing in New Mexico to lure the next generation of tobacco users.
The report found New Mexico will collect $133.8 million in revenue this year from the 1998 state tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend only 4.2 percent of the money on tobacco prevention programs. The 1998 Master Settlement Agreement is compensation for tobacco-related suffering, death and disease caused by major tobacco companies. These dollars are normally paid into the Tobacco Settlement Permanent Fund, a restricted “savings account” created in New Mexico to provide long-term, stable funding for tobacco control and chronic disease prevention, but syphoning the fund this year may have long-lasting consequences.
“The report’s poor prognosis for preventing New Mexican youth from a lifetime tobacco addiction is alarming and inexcusable,” said ACS CAN New Mexico Government Relations Director Sandra Adondakis. “State lawmakers must do more to protect our kids and counter the tobacco industry’s deceptive marketing tactics.”
ACS CAN has joined the American Lung Association of New Mexico, the American Heart Association, the American Stroke Association, Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids and Keres Consulting, Inc., in calling for legislation this next session that will add a $1.50 per pack cigarette tax increase with an equivalent tax on other tobacco products including e-cigarettes. The new revenue could be used to increase prevention and education funding, which in the long-run will save health care costs and lives.
An estimated 40,000 New Mexico kids alive today will die prematurely from smoking. State lawmakers can change this statistic by fully funding tobacco prevention and cessation programs and increasing tobacco taxes. Lawmakers have a responsibility to ensure future tobacco settlement dollars will fund programs and services that are proven to fight tobacco use and save lives. The Master Settlement Agreement is New Mexico’s single best opportunity to break the cycle of tobacco addiction for our state’s youngest generations.
A 2015 Institute of Medicine report determined that 90 percent of adult daily smokers begin using cigarettes before 19, making youth-focused tobacco prevention programs critical in reducing tobacco-related death and disease. Tobacco settlement dollars help fund programs such as the Evolvement youth engagement program. Since 2010, more than 3,000 high school students statewide have been trained to educate communities and their leaders about the harmful effects of tobacco use.
About the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network
ACS CAN, the nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, supports evidence-based policy and legislative solutions designed to eliminate cancer as a major health problem. ACS CAN works to encourage elected officials and candidates to make cancer a top national priority. ACS CAN gives ordinary people extraordinary power to fight cancer with the training and tools they need to make their voices heard. For more information, visit www.acscan.org.
About the American Lung Association in New Mexico
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease, through research, education and advocacy. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to improve the air we breathe; to reduce the burden of lung disease on individuals and their families; and to eliminate tobacco use and
tobacco-related diseases. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide Seal, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit our website: Lung.org.
About the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is a leading force in the fight to reduce tobacco use and its deadly toll in the United States and around the world. Our vision: A future free of the death and disease caused by tobacco. Tobacco-Free Kids works to save lives by advocating for public policies that prevent kids from smoking, help smokers quit and protect everyone from secondhand smoke. Learn more at www.tobaccofreekids.org.
About the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association
The American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association are devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke – the two leading causes of death in the world. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases. The Dallas-based American Heart Association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. The American Stroke Association is a division of the American Heart Association. To learn more or to get involved, call 1-800-AHA-USA1, visit heart.org or call any of our offices around the country. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
About Keres Consulting, Inc. is a Native American-owned, New Mexico-based small business that cares about the impact of commercial tobacco in New Mexico’s tribal communities. It works to eliminate death and disease caused from commercial tobacco through commercial tobacco prevention, cessation and education in Native American communities throughout New Mexico. # # #
American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network