New Study Says Georgia Ranks Near The Bottom For Teen Smoking Prevention

Dec 17, 2018

Georgia ranks 47th in the nation when it comes to funding programs to prevent kids from using tobacco, according to a recent report that looks at what states are doing with money from the 1998 tobacco settlement.

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends Georgia spend $106 million per year to prevent tobacco use among teenagers and help adults stop smoking, the state only uses about 1 percent of that, John Schachter with the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids said.

The state has one of the nation’s lowest taxes on tobacco products at just 3 cents per cigarette pack, and that money isn't going toward prevention, Schachter said. He recommends Georgia raise taxes on tobacco-related products.

Of the $393 million brought in from tobacco revenue — a combination of the settlement as well as the Georgia tobacco taxes — only $750,000 will be spent on tobacco prevention programs, Schachter said.

That $750,000 is money that came from the settlement, Georgia Department of Public Health spokeswoman Nancy Nydam said, adding that additional money from the federal government allows the state to spend another $1.6 million on promoting quitting among adults and young adults.

Related programs to eliminate exposure to second-hand smoke, identify and elimine tobacco-related disparities, and prevent young people from trying these products is also funded from this federal money, Nydam said.

New Study Shows Teen Vape Use Is Rising

Credit Monitoring The Future survey/New England Journal of Medicine

Teenagers vaping nicotine saw the biggest one-year spike of any kind in the 44 years the Monitoring the Future survey has been tracking substance abuse by young people, NPR reports.

RELATED: Teen Vaping Soared In 2018

Juul, a device for inhaling heated nicotine and other flavors, has exploded in sales over the last year, but some teens don't even realize they are inhaling an addictive substance, according to a report released Monday by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

NIDA Deputy Director Wilson Compton said he is concerned by the survey result showing 17 percent of eighth graders endorse vaping.

"That means that 13, 14, and 15-year-olds are using these vaping products in just surprising numbers," he said. "That's a period of intense development of the brain, and exposure to substances early in the teens really primes the brain for a much higher likelihood of addiction later on."

The Problem Of Addiction

The issue is one of not only addiction to nicotine and nicotine products but also it also may translate into greater risk for use of other substances and addiction to other substances as well.

"That's a real concern and one of the reasons why all public health officials want to keep youth off of substances as much as possible," Compton said.

Schnacter said 11,700 Georgians die each year of tobacco-related causes and tobacco use costs the state more than $3.1 billion in health care expenses.

"So, again, if the state is not spending much on tobacco prevention, we're only going to see these numbers go up because the industry is still so aggressive," Schachter said. "Both the cigarette industry and the tobacco industry in general, and (these companies are) marketing their products especially toward kids."