Sunday, April 3, 2011

Tobacco Prevention Programs - Are they a good bang for the buck?

The Corrector received a rather interesting e-mail from a reader the end of last week with the following story which we have posted exactly as submitted to us.

I was sitting at my favorite watering hole yesterday with a friend, when in walked a kid who looked like he was 13. He asked the bartender for a pack of cigarettes and she asked for ID, he dug around in his pockets and said "I'll be right back".

Well, he didn't come back, but shortly after a woman walked in with a blue card and handed it to the bartender and thanked her for her participation in the elimination of selling cigarettes to minors.

I was curious so I asked the woman if taxpayers were responsible for paying for this...
she replied "No, it is grant money"...
Which as far as I am concerned is still tax-payer money! Really???

With all the hoopla of our state and federal govt. being broke and we are still seeing grant money go to this? I was NOT happy!

If a business wants to stay in business---they will not sell cigarettes to minors.
This person's letter got us to thinking ................. just how much money is wasted with all these tobacco "prevention" programs and do the results warrant the expense?

Clear back in 1998 Montana signed the Master Settlement Agreement with the big tobacco companies which gave annual payments to Montana to be used for back filling Medicaid funding used for tobacco related treatment and also to reduce smoking and promote public health. Currently about 16% of Montanans smoke. Montana received $35.5 million dollars in 2009.

The current legislature cut $8.2 million from the Tobacco Use Prevention Program budget which was using $9 million dollars of the settlement money for “prevention” The prevention portion of the program currently employs 80 people and this cut means around 70 of them will have to go and maybe funding for the dozen or so Havre area billboards like the one in the picture will have to go. Instead the legislature is suggesting that these funds be used to fund nursing home patients and other tobacco-related health care costs.

I have to agree with the person that sent us this letter. It sure seems like a lot of the Tobacco Settlement money is being wasted on bogus prevention programs that are mostly designed to just “use up the money” and provide “make work” jobs for 70 unnecessary people instead of using the money to help with the health care costs of those stricken with tobacco caused illness.  In addition, are a dozen anti-tobacco billboards in a 30 mile stretch around Havre really a good bang for the buck?

Additional reading here, here and here


  1. I was actually embarrassed that Montana took part in that lawsuit. Everyone knows that cigarettes are bad and to sue the tobacco companies on behalf of people that were knowingly wrecking your health has always bothered me.

  2. but...
    do children know?
    since tobacco is deemed, by the medical community, to be addictive beyond heroine...
    like meth, potentially addictive down to a single use...
    and, since up to 75% percent of smokers started in their teens...
    we should hold tobacco companies harmless because they are just doing duty to their shock, er, stockholders.
    nobody cares what happens to the pennies on tens of thousand that the companies so willingly paid for massive damage done society.
    as always...
    it just another grisly joke.

  3. Don't forget that they said hiring those 80+ people to begin with was economic development and this program gave us some jobs

    Doing what no one is certain

    I too am glad to see it cut and I hope they use the money to fund the programs that help cancer patients