Georgia Tobacco Control Programs Unlikely To Be Funded By Settlement
As Georgia waits for the first of its 25 annual payments from its $4.8
billion settlement with the tobacco industry, it appears that state
lawmakers will not fund tobacco control programs with that money.
Governor Roy Barnes (D) wants to split the money between economic development in
tobacco-producing counties and health care programs, and Republican
lawmakers want to use the money for tax cuts. Georgia currently spends 21
cents per resident on tobacco control programs, all from federal grants, and
less than the $5 per person recommended by the Centers for Disease Control.
Kathleen Toomey, state health director, is not publicly lobbying for tobacco
settlement money and her spokesperson commented that it would be
"inappropriate" for Toomey to offer her opinions before the state lawmakers
decide how the money should be spent.
Kristen Betts of the American Cancer
Society commented on the inconsistency between the reasons for filing the
tobacco lawsuit and how Georgia lawmakers are planning to spend to the
settlement money. "With the tobacco settlement, we've got a historic
opportunity. Our state sued to prevent this from happening in the future
and to help people who are victims of tobacco use currently. If we do
anything else (with the settlement money), that is just a missed opportunity
- and a real shame."
Alan Judd, "Up For Grabs: Groups Are Jockeying For A Piece Of The
State's Tobacco Settlement, But Anti-Smoking Forces Will Get None," ATLANTA
JOURNAL AND CONSTITUTION (on-line), August 22, 1999.
HAVES AND HAVE-NOTS -- The ATLANTA JOURNAL AND CONSTITUTION reports that the
state of Georgia is unlikely to spend any tobacco settlement money on
tobacco control and prevention. According to the JOURNAL, settlement
dollars are most likely to flow to health care programs, economic
development in tobacco-producing counties and tax cuts. Absent a strong
advocate for anti-smoking programs, the state is poised to continue to spend
zero state dollars on tobacco control. The JOURNAL notes that the tobacco
industry has long been a powerful force in the Georgia. For example,
Governor Roy Barnes received $51,752 from the industry last year alone.
As regards anti-smoking programs, the nation will increasingly be divided
into the "haves" and the "have-nots." It appears that as many as
one-quarter of the states will have significant anti-smoking programs.
Besides helping expand our knowledge of effective programs, these states
should see declining smoking prevalence. And, as more states make progress
in reducing smoking, the "have-not" states lack of progress will become more
glaring. Over time, this can be used to shame "have-not" states into
funding their own programs.