Report finds decline in state funding for anti-tobacco programs

State funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs has hit its lowest level since 1999, even as states continue to receive hefty annual payments from the tobacco industry for anti-smoking initiatives.

According to a report released by health groups Wednesday, states will spend an average of two percent of their tobacco-related revenue, or $518 million, on anti-tobacco programs in 2011.

That revenue comes from a combination of tobacco taxes and settlement payments — expected to total $246 billion by 2024 — from a 1998 lawsuit against four leading tobacco companies. The payments, officials promised in 1998, would be used largely for anti-smoking programs.

The overall rate of funding for such programs has dipped 28 percent over the last three years, Wednesday's report states. Some recipients of settlement funds — like Missouri, Tennessee, New Jersey and Connecticut — now allocate only one percent of the amount recommended by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), while three others — Nevada, New Hampshire and Ohio — allocate no money at all. 

The federal government continues to supplement states' efforts with CDC grants, as well as with funds from March's healthcare overhaul and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. 

The national rate of smoking among adults remains firm at 20.6 percent. 

The report was issued by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Lung Association and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.