Arkansas Ranks 7th in Protecting Kids from Tobacco

TPCP Spending- Arkansas 2014

Arkansas Department of Health

Arkansas Ranks 7th in Protecting Kids from Tobacco

Little Rock, AR   – Fifteen years after the 1998 state tobacco settlement, Arkansas ranks 7th in the nation in funding programs preventing kids from smoking and helping smokers quit, according to a national report released by a coalition of public health organizations.

“Arkansas can be proud of the progress it is making to help children,” says Dr. Gary Wheeler Medical Director for the Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program at the Arkansas Department of Health. “The percentage of students who currently smoke has declined significantly.”

Key findings for Arkansas include:

  • Smoking rates among Arkansas high school students have experienced a 58% reduction between 1997 and 2011.  This translates to more than 34,000 fewer teens smoking in 2011.
  •  The tobacco industry spends $107.4 million a year to market their products in Arkansas.  This is six times what the state spends on tobacco prevention.

“Arkansans and their leaders including the legislature and our governors have made a wise financial commitment to help our youth.  Tobacco prevention is a smart investment.  It saves lives and saves money by reducing tobacco-related health care costs.” Wheeler continued, “Arkansans are fortunate that our elected officials recognize this.”

However, the toll of tobacco on Arkansas youth is still evident.  More than 18% of Arkansas high school students still smoke.  More than 20% of male high school students still use smokeless or spit tobacco.  And, 2,500 Arkansas kids under 18, become new daily smokers each year according to The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

Tobacco use is the number one cause of preventable death in the U.S., killing more than 400,000 people and costing $96 billion in health care bills each year.  More information, including the full report and state-specific information, can be obtained at www.tobaccofreekids.org/reports/settlements.

To learn more about how you and your family can participate in tobacco control initiatives, visit StampOutSmoking.com.  Parents can lead by example.  If you are a tobacco user and want to quit, the Arkansas Tobacco Quitline can help.  Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW to learn more about free nicotine replacement therapy and other services.  Youth can discover ways to stand up to Big Tobacco and engage with their peers by visiting the Project Prevent Facebook page at Facebook.com/SOSProjectPrevent.