Oklahoma Gets “F” For Anti-Tobacco Program Funding

January 14, 2010

The American Lung Association has given Oklahoma an “F” for the amount of money spent on programs intended to prevent tobacco use, despite being one of only five states that increased anti-tobacco funding last year.

Thirty-nine other states and the District of Columbia also received Fs in that category in a report released.

In its annual State of Tobacco Control report, the Lung Association graded all 50 states and the District of Columbia on tobacco prevention, smoke-free air, cigarette taxes and cessation coverage.

“We know we have a long way to go,” said Doug Matheny, chief of the tobacco use-prevention service for the Oklahoma State Department of Health. “It’s a big problem. It’s going to take a while to turn it around.”

States received an F for funding if they spent less than 50 percent of the amount recommended by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Oklahoma nearly received a passing grade because its $21 million in funding is nearly 47 percent of the CDC’s $45 million spending recommendation.

Despite the state’s F, the report’s authors offered Oklahoma a “thumbs-up” for its continued increase in funding. The state’s tobacco use-prevention funding in fiscal year 2009 was $19 million.

Oklahoma received a D for its smoke-free laws because they aren’t comprehensive enough, the report said.

According to the report, “Oklahoma was an early state (for the middle America region) to adopt a public smoking law. However, there are several problems with this law that need to be corrected. They include state pre-emption of stronger local laws, the allowance of smoking rooms in many public places and workplaces and an exemption for bars.”

Oklahoma received another D for its tobacco-cessation programs, an improvement over last year’s F, the report said.

Finally, Oklahoma received a D for its low cigarette tax. The tax remains at $1.03 per pack, below the national average of $1.34, the report shows.

Information from: Tulsa World, http://www.tulsaworld.com

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