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Alabama Ranks 49th Nationally in Funding Tobacco Prevention

You’ve heard all the warnings and scientific data, even seen disclaimers on the side of the box of cigarettes.

Many times, however, it doesn’t stop your child from picking up a cigarette.

11,100 of Alabama’s kids start smoking each year, and 24.4% of high school students in the state smoke regularly. That’s an early start to a deadly habit.

“80 to 90% percent of smoking adults started before the age of 18. There’s good data that if you can keep young people from ever beginning to smoke, they never will smoke,” said Dr. Don Williamson, Alabama’s State Health Officer.

Prevention, however, is hard to accomplish. According to a new study from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Alabama ranks 49th when it comes to funding tobacco prevention programs, spending only 2.9% CDC’s minimum recommendations. Health administrators say their hands are tied.

“It costs twenty million dollars if you want to do it right. In Alabama, we’re not going to get twenty million dollars,” Williamson said.

With settlement money from tobacco companies tied up in other state programs, funding to help prevent and put an end to teen smoking is scarce.

Alabama Map“Bottom line is we just don’t have enough dollars in the state to do the effective job on smoking cessation that we’d like,” Williamson explained.

The Department of Public Health will ask for $4,000,000 to help aid tobacco prevention and treatment.

Though it’s still far less than the Federal government recommends, the amount is more than five times what the state currently spends on those programs.

Source: Cody Holyoke