Funding comprehensive tobacco prevention programs is a strategy recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for reducing tobacco addiction, related illnesses and deaths. Funding Oregon’s program is proven to reduce tobacco use and related illness and death, yet the program is supported at just 18 percent of the CDC-recommended level — and none of the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement funds are used for tobacco prevention.
Funding Oregon’s Tobacco Prevention and Education Program (TPEP) is proven to work. Since it began in 1996, per-capita cigarette consumption has declined 46 percent, meaning that 3.2 billion fewer cigarettes were sold. After program funding was reduced, sales went up and then dropped again when funding was restored in 2007.
TPEP operates with a $7.7 million annual budget. It funds five nationally recognized programs:
- The Oregon Tobacco Quit Line provides counseling and medicine for helping smokers quit.
- Funding to county programs, Native American tribes, and community organizations to reduce tobacco use and counter tobacco industry influence locally.
- Consumer education to reinforce the dangers of secondhand smoke, motivate people to quit tobacco and show that smoking is the exception, not the norm.
- Policy support to create smokefree spaces and help people to quit.
- Statewide data collection, monitoring and accountability reporting.
CDC’s recommended funding level
In 2007, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) updated its recommended funding levels for tobacco prevention and education programs. CDC reported that Oregon’s recommended level of funding should be $43 million per year (add link to CDC page), which means that Oregon’s program is funded at below 18 percent of the CDC-recommended level.
Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) funds
Oregon receives payments from tobacco companies as part of the Master Settlement Agreement, but these funds have never been spent on tobacco control. Currently, most of the received settlement funds go to pay debt service on the state’s general obligation bonds, which will be paid off in September 2013.
At the close of the 2011-2013 biennium, the Oregon Department of Administrative Services projects that there will be $108.9 million in the tobacco settlement funds account. Only $42 million of that has been dedicated to be spent in the 2013-2015 biennium, meaning that about $67 million is available for allocation in the 2011-2013 biennium.