KCUR News
12:29 am
Wed December 24, 2008

Tobacco Prevention Programs: Anti-Smoking Groups Call For More Funding

Kansas City, KS – Kansas anti-smoking groups say the state needs to put more money into programs to stop smoking. KCUR's Elana Gordon reports.

180 million dollars. That's what Kansas gets from tobacco settlement money and cigarette taxes. One million of that goes towards programs to prevent smoking and help people quit. A recent study put Kansas 42nd in the nation in its funding for such programs. Mary Jane Hellebust is Director of Tobacco Free Kansas and says the state's not doing enough to lower the number of smokers.

Hellebust: "You know, you kind of characterize it as you need the pound of butter to spread across a large loaf of bread - and what we have is a pad of butter."

Hellebust says an estimated 10,000 children in Kansas start smoking every year and that nearly 4,000 people die from tobacco-related diseases. A spokesperson from the Governor's office says reducing the number of smokers in the state is an important issue and that raising the state's cigarette tax would be a good start. But she also says the state's main priorities are balancing the budget, maintaining a commitment to public schools, and providing essential state services.

Funding for health care coverage on KCUR has been provided by the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City.

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