Oklahoma is among many states failing to invest in programs that would reduce or prevent residents from using tobacco products, according to a report released Wednesday.
The American Lung Association's annual “State of Tobacco Control” report grades states on how they're working to fight tobacco use.
And most states, by the American Lung Association's standards, are failing.
“This report reveals a tragic money trail that leads to tobacco-caused death and disease, where states and federal government are failing to do what we know works to reduce tobacco use,” said Erika Sward, assistant vice president of national advocacy for the American Lung Association. “Oklahoma has a lot more work that needs to be done, but it is better off than many states.”
In 2012, two states — Alaska and North Dakota — earned A's for “sufficiently investing in their tobacco prevention and control programs,” according to the report. Forty-two states and the District of Columbia were given F's.
The report gauges whether a state is spending a sufficient amount of money on prevention programs by looking at whether the state spends the recommended amount from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Oklahoma was one of few states to get a D, instead of an F like the majority of states, in its tobacco prevention and tobacco control spending.
CDC recommends Oklahoma spend $45 million on tobacco prevention and control programs. Meanwhile, the state spends $22.5 million in state and federal money on these programs.
Tracey Strader remembers about 10 years ago when that CDC recommendation was about $22 million, where Oklahoma is at today.
“I understand the calculation, and that's an ideal formula, but I think all of us in Oklahoma are pretty conservative about what we put our money into, and we want to be sure we're going to get a return on investment, and that it's the best fit for our state for right now,” Strader said. “Certainly we could do more.”
During the 2012 fiscal year, 34 percent of the callers who used the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline who engaged in multiple coaching calls to quit smoking said they were successful in their quit attempt, according to TSET.
Callers are contacted seven months after their first coaching call and asked if they have had a cigarette in the past 30 days. During the 2012 fiscal year, more than 38,000 Oklahomans had called the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline.
The American Lung Association also grades states on their cigarette taxes, coverage provided for tobacco cessation and smokefree air. Oklahoma received a C for its $1.03 cigarette tax. The state got a D for smoke-free air, or the state's smoking restrictions. And it received a C in cessation coverage, or what insurers in Oklahoma cover for people wanting to quit using tobacco.
Sward said tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S.
And these measures are important because they're evidence-based models that are proven to help states reduce the number of people who smoke, she said.
“All of them have been proven to reduce smoking rates, and that is why the tobacco industry doesn't want to see any of them happen” “we're looking at meaningful items that will make a big difference in reducing tobacco use and the death and disease caused by tobacco use in the united states and in Oklahoma, and it's really up to all of our elected officials and other policymakers to summon the political will, to take us off this reckless money trail.”
The National Institute on Money in State Politics released a report “Big Tobacco Wins Tax Battles” on Wednesday simultaneously with the American Lung Association's report.
The institute is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that focuses on campaign money in state-level elections and public policy in each state in the United States.
In its report, the institute reported that tobacco donors contributed about $54 million in 2011 to 2012 to state-level candidates, political parties and ballot measure campaigns, the second-highest since 2005 to 2006, when that number totaled $96.6 million.
About 88 percent of that money went to campaigns in California. Four of the largest tobacco manufacturers, including Philip Morris USA, Reynolds American Inc., U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co. and Altria, gave more than half of the money, or $47.4 million, of all the tobacco money given to state campaigns, according to the report.
The report did not focus much on Oklahoma, but did report that from 2011 to 2012, the tobacco industry contributed $23,600 to candidates in Oklahoma. Meanwhile, health advocates contributed $1,250, according to the report.