Kentucky’s spending on tobacco prevention and cessation goes up, but still falls far short of federal recommendations

Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids chart

Kentucky leads the nation in smoking and tobacco-related health costs, but ranks 35th in how much it spends from tobacco-tax revenue and the millions it gets from the 1998 cigarette manufacturers settlement with states that sued them to recover smoking-related health costs.

The presumption was that much of the settlement would go toward tobacco prevention, but it hasn’t. Kentucky funneled half its settlement money into improvement of the agricultural economy.

States are ranked in the annual report from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the American Lung Association, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights and Truth Initiative.

The report, “Broken Promises to Our Children: A State-by-State Look at the 1998 Tobacco Settlement 20 Years Later,” says Kentucky will get an estimated $507.3 million in tobacco taxes and settlement money this, but will spend only $3.8 million on tobacco prevention. That is only 6.7 percent of the $56.4 million that the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the state should spend for tobacco prevention and cessation.

That said, this year’s spending is about 46 percent more than last year, when the state allocated $2.6 million for tobacco prevention and cessation.

“The increased amount is based on some changes in how the Master Settlement Agreement funds are distributed,” Doug Hogan, spokesman for the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, said in an e-mail. “The increase for tobacco prevention and cessation did not take funding away from another area.”

He said the additional settlement money will be used to develop a new campaign against smokeless tobacco use by rural youth, to provide nicotine-replacement therapy for people who are uninsured or on Medicare and enroll on the state “quitline,” and to enhance and expand some other programs.

The quitline can be reached by calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW or by texting QUITKY to 797979. It can also be reached at

Meanwhile, the tobacco industry spends $276.7 million on marketing in Kentucky, which amounts to $73 in marketing for every $1 spent on prevention.

“Kentucky simply can no longer afford this off-kilter equation,” Ben Chandler, chair of the Coalition for a Smoke-Free Tomorrow, said in a news release. “Our health-care costs for smoking-related diseases total $1.92 billion every year. The Master Settlement Agreement was intended to help mitigate the cost of Big Tobacco’s addiction-model business plan.” Chandler participated in the settlement as state attorney general.

He added, “We’re grateful for the additional funding included in the next budget, and will advocate for continued increases to prevent a new generation with tobacco addiction, and to help current smokers quit for good.”

Kentucky is not alone in its low settlement funding to prevention programs. The report says only two states, California and Alaska, provide even 70 percent of the recommended CDC funding, and 28 states and the District of Columbia spend less than 20 percent of the recommended amounts.

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