Connecticut is tied for last in the nation in funding programs to prevent kids from smoking cigarettes and help smokers quit, according to a national report released recently by a coalition of public health organizations.

Connecticut is one of five states that have budgeted zero state funds for cheap cigarette online prevention programs this year. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that Connecticut spend $43.9 million a year on cheap cigarettes prevention. Other key findings for Connecticut include:

• Connecticut this year will collect $509 million in revenue from the 1998 buy cigarette online settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend none of it on tobacco prevention programs.

• Since 2009, Connecticut has cut state funding for tobacco prevention from $7.4 million to zero.

• The tobacco companies spend $98.4 million a year to market their products in Connecticut.

The annual report on states' funding of tobacco prevention programs, titled "A Broken Promise to Our Children: The 1998 State Tobacco Settlement 13 Years Later," was released by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Lung Association, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights.

For years, Connecticut was one of the worst states in the nation in funding tobacco prevention, providing little or no funding. Connecticut improved significantly in fiscal year 2009, but has again eliminated funding and fallen to last in the nation.

"By eliminating funding for tobacco prevention, Connecticut's leaders have let down the state's kids and put the state's progress against tobacco at risk," said Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "To continue reducing smoking cigarettes, it is critical that Connecticut quickly increase funding for tobacco prevention. Even in these difficult budget times, tobacco prevention is a smart investment that saves lives and saves money by reducing tobacco-related health care costs."

In Connecticut, 15.3% of high school students smoke cigarettes and 4,300 more kids become regular smokers each year. Tobacco annually claims 4,700 lives and costs the state $1.6 billion in health care bills.

Nationally, the report finds that most states are failing to adequately fund tobacco prevention and cessation programs. Altogether, the states have cut funding for these programs to the lowest level since 1999, when they first started receiving tobacco settlement payments. Key national findings of the report include:

• The states this year will collect $25.6 billion from the tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend just 1.8% ($456.7 million) of it on tobacco prevention programs. This means the states are spending less than two cents of every dollar in tobacco revenue to fight tobacco use.

• States have cut funding for tobacco prevention programs by 12% ($61.2 million) in the past year and by 36% ($260.5 million) in the past four years.

• Only two states — Alaska and North Dakota — currently fund tobacco prevention programs at the CDC-recommended level.

The report warns that the nation's progress in reducing smoking cigarettes is at risk unless states increase funding for programs to prevent kids from smoking cigarettes and help smokers quit. The U.S. has significantly reduced smoking cigarettes among both youth and adults, but 19.3% of adults and 19.5% of high school students still smoke.

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States, killing more than 400,000 people and costing $96 billion in health care bills each year.

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