Study: Massachusetts tobacco prevention programs are underfunded

Massachusetts spends just under $4 million a year on tobacco prevention

CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – An alarming new study shows that Massachusetts isn’t putting enough money into tobacco prevention programs.

Unlike marijuana or alcohol, you only need to be 18 in most communities to buy tobacco. Kids get exposed early, which is why advocates say it’s important to educate them early. It’s an uphill battle.

Massachusetts spends just under $4 million a year on tobacco prevention, with money that is supposed to come from tobacco taxes and lawsuits. Tobacco companies spend nearly $124 million on marketing tobacco products. Some of these products are hard to tell apart from candy.

Massachusetts ranks 36th for prevention spending. Prevention advocates say, when it comes to dollars and sense, it makes sense to spend more.

Coordinator of the Easthampton Healthy Youth Coalition, Ruth Ever, told 22News, “It’s in our interest to have fewer smokers and to prevent young people from starting to smoke, because of what it costs us down the road. No matter how much we bring in in tax revenue, it is never going to equal what it is costing us as a state to treat tobacco related illnesses.”

The state spends more than $4 billion each year on healthcare costs for smokers. Smoking is the number one cause of preventable death in our country.

The good news is smoking rates across the country have dropped to record lows.