The Gazette reports that statistics released last week indicate that Maryland currently ranks 34th nationally on its level of funding on anti-tobacco programs. According to the article, the state allots $4.3 million annually toward tobacco prevention programs, a 78% decrease from two years ago.
According to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, one of the public health organizations that put out the report, adult and high school student smoking rates have decreased because of the state’s prevention program, a law that bans smoking in workplaces and a $2 tax on cigarette packs.
However, Matthew L. Myers, the organization’s president, sees the decreased funding as a threat to the state’s progress.
“Maryland has made tremendous progress in the fight against tobacco, but these gains could stop and even reverse unless state leaders quickly increase funding for tobacco prevention programs,” Myers said in a news release.
Of the $546 million the state will gain this year from tobacco taxes and a 1998 settlement from a lawsuit against tobacco companies, the report says 0.8 percent will be put toward tobacco prevention. A requirement in the state budget that set a minimum funding amount for tobacco prevention was removed earlier this year.
In reaction to the report, a spokesperson for the O’Malley Administration stated:
“Tobacco prevention, particularly concerning youth, is a priority for the governor,” Adamec said. “Not only because of its public health benefits, but because, in the long run, it saves money.”