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09 December 2009

Report: Georgia Ranks Dead Last In Preventing Kids From Smoking

Georgia ranks 50th in the nation in funding programs to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit, according to a national report released today by a coalition of public health organizations.

Georgia currently spends $3.2 million a year on tobacco prevention and cessation programs, which is 2.7 percent of the $116.5 million recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Last year, Georgia also ranked 50th, spending $3.2 million on tobacco prevention.

Other key findings for Georgia include:

  • Georgia this year will collect $377 million from the 1998 tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend just 0.8 percent of it on tobacco prevention programs.
  • The tobacco companies spend $426.4 million a year to market their products in Georgia. This is 134 times what the state spends on tobacco prevention.

In addition to its lack of funding for tobacco prevention, Georgia's cigarette tax is only 37 cents per pack, which is the 47th lowest in the nation and well below the national average of $1.34 per pack. Increasing the cigarette tax is a proven way to reduce smoking, especially among kids.

"Georgia again is one of the most disappointing states in funding programs to protect kids from tobacco and is spending just a fraction of what the CDC recommends," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "To reduce tobacco's devastating toll, Georgia's leaders should raise the cigarette tax and increase funding for tobacco prevention. Even in these difficult budget times, tobacco prevention is a smart investment that reduces smoking, saves lives and saves money by reducing tobacco-related health care costs."

In Georgia, 18.6 percent of high school students smoke, and 9,900 more kids become regular smokers every year. Each year, tobacco claims 10,500 lives and costs the state $2.3 billion in health care bills.

More information, including the full report and state-specific information, can be obtained at