WASHINGTONMore than beauty lies in the eye of the beholder. For
example, the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) and the Campaign
for Tobacco Free Kids offered quite different interpretations of a report
released by NCSL at its annual meeting.
The report examined the allocation by the states of monies received from the
tobacco industry as the result of successful lawsuits or the settlement
agreement that ended the lawsuits of 46 states and the District of Columbia.
During fiscal years 2000 to 2002, the report said, 49 states allocated $21.283
Noting that nearly 46% of the money received in the last several years has
gone to various forms of health care, the NCSL chose to emphasize that the
largest single beneficiary of the tobacco settlement funds has been health
care. More than $1 billion was spent on tobacco cessation and
prevention between 1999 and 2001.
"Under the agreement, states have been given a great deal of
flexibility in how they use their revenue," said Lee Dixon, director, NCSL
Health Policy Tracking Service. "Right now, it is clear that states are
committed to improving the quality and access of the health care programs that
However, the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids focused on the fact that only 5%
of the total funds received have been allocated to tobacco programs. "The
large majority of states are breaking their promise to use proceeds to fund
effective tobacco prevention programs," said Campaign president Matthew L.
Forty of the 49 states have funded tobacco prevention efforts and health
services from the industry payments; 20 have allocated tobacco monies for
endowments and budget reserves. Six states have used part of the money to
institute programs to aid tobacco farmers and the communities that depend on
tobacco growing for their economic strength.