Giving up smoking is no simple task, and tobacco costs the United States billions of dollars in health care bills and lost man hours. In 2008, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that smoking was costing the country $193 billion every single year. Because of smoking's impact on public health, there are quite a few organizations working to help reduce the number of smokers in the U.S., and some of them spend millions -- or even hundreds of millions -- to do so.
Many smoking prevention campaigns target kids, and there are even entire organizations aimed at keeping teens from smoking. The largest anti-smoking group that targets youth is the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. Of course, with a mission like that, it's safe to assume that most of their budget goes toward tobacco prevention. With other anti-smoking groups, the numbers get a little bit trickier to sort out.
Anti-smoking campaigns can focus either on smoking prevention or smoking cessation (helping smokers quit), and most groups work on a mix of the two. While prevention programs tend to be aimed at teens, there are prevention campaigns out there for adults, as well. Unfortunately, not all anti-smoking organizations are able to break out exactly what they spend specifically on prevention for a couple of reasons. One problem is that large organizations, like the American Lung Association, have chapters across the country that do their own accounting, making it almost impossible to get a total amount for the organization as a whole. The other issue is that smoking prevention and cessation are often closely tied together. Messages about cessation can help with prevention by raising awareness of smoking's dangers. Think about those anti-smoking ads depicting a smoker's lungs next to healthy lungs: That kind of campaign could keep someone from picking up the habit or convince a smoker that it's time to quit.
As part of the Master Settlement Agreement in 1998, tobacco companies agreed to pay $246 billion to states over 25 years to fund anti-smoking campaigns. In 2010, the
Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids reported that only 2 percent of the money from the settlement and from tobacco taxes was actually going toward prevention and cessation programs. States were really spending close to 30 percent less on anti-smoking campaigns than they were three years before.
But who does spend the most on smoking prevention? Next up, we'll look at some of the numbers.