The American Cancer Society says Connecticut is one of two states that has not provided funding for tobacco prevention from money received from a 1990s settlement between the tobacco industry and 46 states.
The Connecticut attorney general’s website says Connecticut received $1.8 billion from the tobacco settlement between 2000 and 2013. The site says the long-term goal is to spend the money on tobacco prevention programs and reimburse the state for tobacco-related medical expenses.
Bryte Johnson is with the American Cancer Society. He says Connecticut has not spent the money on tobacco prevention programs.
“Unfortunately it’s not required to be used for prevention. And as a result of various deficits over the years in state finances, the fund has been depleted considerably year to year.”
Johnson hopes his association’s report will be a wake-up call to state lawmakers who are currently trying to close a projected $3.5 billion deficit in the state’s next two-year budget.
“Granted while we are in extreme fiscal constraints right now in Connecticut, the reality is tobacco use kills 4,900 people every year in this state, at a cost of over $2 billion each and every year. And our response to that is to essentially do nothing.”
The other state that has not spent its tobacco settlement money on tobacco prevention is New Jersey. That state is also facing a fiscal crisis.