Is Tobacco Settlement Money Going Up in Smoke

Tobacco companies spend more on marketing in a single day than 47 states and the District of Columbia spend on tobacco prevention in an entire year, one report finds.

The growing gap between the amounts spent by states on smoking prevention programs compared to the record sums tobacco companies are spending to market their products is affecting progress in reducing youth smoking, according to a coalition of public health organizations.

An annual report titled “A Broken Promise to Our Children: The 1998 State Tobacco Settlement Seven Years Later” was released by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society and American Lung Association.

The multi-state tobacco settlement, signed by 46 states and the major tobacco companies in 1998, calls for an estimated $246 billion to be paid out to the states over the first 25 years for tobacco prevention purposes.

While the states’ prevention efforts can’t keep pace with the tobacco industry’s marketing, some private companies may be able to pick up the slack.

“Some of the tobacco settlement money might be better spent on products that directly benefit smokers who are trying to give up the habit,” said John Chapel, president of Safer Smokes, a company that produces a tobacco-free smoke called Bravo.

The product has all of the characteristics of a regular cigarette with three key differences: no nicotine, no tobacco and few known carcinogens derived from cigarettes.

In fact, Bravo is not required by the Food and Drug Administration to carry the Surgeon General’s warning on its packs. This clinically tested product encourages smokers to quit the habit gradually because it gives them the experience of smoking a cigarette without addictive nicotine.

One of the greatest influences in starting and continuing to smoke cigarettes is the observation of friends and family smoking.

“If we can get the parents and friends to use Bravo to quit gradually, we will make a difference in the years to come in reducing our overall smoking population,” says Dr. Puzant Torigian, founder of Safer Smokes.