Anti-tobacco ads
prove effective

State officials point to increased
cigarette marketing in response
to health campaigns

Tobacco companies are spending more money in Hawaii to counter state anti-smoking programs and a drop in smokers.

Following the money

Hawaii is one of the few states with a law allocating distribution of annual tobacco settlement revenue:

» 24.5 percent: Emergency Budget Reserve (rainy day) Fund.

» 12.5 percent: Tobacco Prevention and Control Trust, administered by the Hawaii Community Foundation to build an endowment for sustainable funding for anti-tobacco activities.

» 25 percent: State Health Department, for the Healthy Hawaii Initiative promoting exercise, better eating habits and smoking prevention.

» 10 percent: Department of Human Services, for the Children's Health Insurance Program.

» 28 percent: Service fees on a $150 million bond to build the new University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine at Kakaako.

"Obviously we've gotten their attention, and they need to provide greater discounts," said Julian Lipsher, state Department of Health tobacco education and prevention coordinator.

Cigarette companies increased marketing expenditures to $48.2 million in 2003 from $37.9 million in 2002, a 27.3 percent jump, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids reported recently.

Nationally, the companies increased marketing expenditures in 2003 to a record $15.15 billion.

"The percentage has gone up to counterbalance more (anti-smoking) programs in the community," said Deborah Zysman, Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawaii director. "We can track the increase since the settlement."

A 1998 settlement provides annual payments to states from tobacco companies as reimbursement for tobacco-related health care costs.

Lola Irvin, acting manager of the Tobacco Settlement Project in the Department of Health, said Hawaii received about $38 million in the last fiscal year from the settlement.

Hawaii is not meeting the minimum level ($10.8 million a year) recommended for anti-tobacco funding by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but ranks seventh, spending $8.9 million, she said.

Only Delaware, Mississippi and Maine are investing the minimum amounts recommended for anti-smoking programs.

"What's important is we are spending close to the minimum of what CDC recommends for our population, and the dollars we're spending are yielding positive results," Lipsher said.

He said Hawaii's smoking rates are third lowest in the nation, behind Utah and California.

Ten years ago, he said, 30 percent to 32 percent of ninth- to 12th-graders and 22 percent of adults in Hawaii were smoking.

Both rates have dropped, with youth smokers falling to 14.9 percent, and 17 percent for adult smokers, he said.

"We are realizing fewer youth and adult smokers, which will translate into fewer deaths from tobacco-related illness and fewer dollars spent on paying medical health care and loss productivity costs," Lipsher said.

He said most states have paid off debt or used the tobacco settlement funds for purposes other than anti-smoking programs. "Literally a handful of states still have these dollars, probably under 20.

"Hawaii is very fortunate to have crafted a good piece of legislation (governing use of the money) and is able to hang on to these dollars. Not only do we still have it, we've used it for purposes we intended to use it for."

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids says only about 3 percent of $20 billion available to states annually through tobacco settlement funds and cigarette taxes is spent on anti-smoking programs.

"We know the programs work, said Daniel McGoldrick, research director for the campaign. "We know we have the money for them. But when there's money on the table, everybody goes after it."

Zysman also pointed out, "We are lucky that we still are spending dollars on (smoking) prevention and cessation. What we see in other states tells us we need to remain vigilant."

Tobacco settlement money should not be used to fill potholes or balance the budget, she said. "We're trying to make sure the money stays where it's supposed to go."

| | |
E-mail to City Desk


© Honolulu Star-Bulletin -- https://archives.starbulletin.com