Report suggests Ohio could do better with smoking education

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Tobacco use is the number one cause of preventable death in the U.S.

A new report out by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is finding out how well each state is doing to educate people about the dangers of smoking.

The national adult smoking rate has fallen to about 15-percent, but the rate is a lot higher in many states across the Midwest and the South.

A new report takes a look at how much money each state gets in tobacco revenue in taxes and lawsuit settlement income — money that is spent on tobacco prevention.

“Ohio received $1.3 billion in tobacco revenue this year but only spent $12.5 million, that’s less than one percent on tobacco prevention and cessation programs,” said John Schachter, with Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

That lack of spending puts Ohio 30th among the 50 states. Ohio only spends 9.5 percent of what the CDC recommends on those programs. Even so, the adult smoking rate in Ohio has dropped by about 22 percent, better than the national average and the sixth highest in the U.S.

And while the adult smoking rates have dropped in Ohio, it’s another story when it comes to kids. The national youth smoking rate is down to 8 percent, but in Ohio, it’s at 15.1 percent, one of the highest rates in the country.

“Ninety-five percent of adult smokers started before they were 21. If we can get you to 21 without you being a smoker, you are almost certainly never going to become one. That is why our focus is on kids,” Schachter said.

Some of the things states can do to lower those youth smoking rates include increasing the cigarette tax to make them unaffordable for young smokers, create smoke-free laws to help cut down on secondhand smoke and raise the smoking age to 21.

Tobacco companies spend $8.9 billion each year to market tobacco products.