GraniteGrok has a long history of battling the anti-smoking data monkeys. Their numbers often make no sense or contradict the real-world evidence or just common sense. Today is no different.
The focus of a recent report appears to be almost entirely on, not results or eventual outcomes but on investing in prevention programs based on CDC guidelines; and more specifically, how much of your tobacco settlement money you spend on “prevention.”
According to this report, from Tobacco-Free Kids, New Hampshire ranks 47th for protecting kids from smoking while in contrast, the state of Alaska ranks second best.
Contrast? Sure. The contrast is all about money. At least that’s how it looks.
New Hampshire spent $125,000.00 on tobacco prevention in 2017. Alaska spent 9,493,500.00 (9.5 million). And taken in a vacuum, without any other considerations to health overall welfare of children, the side-by-side numbers look like this.
|Adults who smoke||18%||19%|
|HS Students who smoke||4.30%||11%|
|Deaths caused by smoking||1900||600|
|Annual Est Health cost||729 mil||438 mil|
|Portion of cancer deaths att. To smoking||27%||31.40%|
|Resulting tax burden per houshold||$875.00||$1,074.00|
|Est. Tobacco Ind. Marketing||79.6 mil||17.7 mil|
|Ratio marketing $ to Prevention $||568.7/1||1.9/1|
If we’re talking about the headlines, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free kids pumped this gem up on a national newswire about their report: National Report: New Hampshire Ranks 47th in Protecting Kids from Tobacco.
Meanwhile, the United Health Rankings 2017 America’s health report ranks New Hampshire 8th overall in the nation and Alaska 29th. If you look at Smoking, New Hampshire ranks 30th while Alaska puffs in at 35th.
Now, to be fair, Alaska has fewer adults and fewer High School students in total, but higher percentages of both smoke. More of them die from cancer-related to smoking which costs them more per household. And they spend $9,368,500.00 more annually to get that outcome.
Is spending many millions a year on anti-smoking programs providing the most significant benefit for the overall well being of kids?
New Hampshire has the lowest poverty rate in the nation, the lowest percentage of kids in poverty, and a lot more of them are graduating High School. We do have more drinking and a lot more drug deaths (overall among the adults) than Alaska, but we’re not as obese.
Now I’m not saying that New Hampshire is spending it’s smoking settlement money on more wisely. I am saying that government tunnel-vision-spending millions for no significant gains might be worth some introspection and reconsideration.
There is no one size fits all solution. Every state is different. And I think that focusing on priorities than other what the CDC or Tobacco-free kids insist on can produce better outcomes overall. Better than dumping $16.5 million a year (the sum the CDC recommends for the Granite State) into tobacco use prevention.
But that’s not what the media will tell us. They won’t mention that Alaska is ranked #2 because it spends $9.5 million a year but a larger percentage of kids and adults still smoke. All we’ll hear is how New Hampshire ranked 47th. Mic drop.
Declaring state’s unfit based on the money alone is dishonest, but that’s all this is about.
And yes, it is. Missouri and West Virgina are 48th and 49th, and they spent even less than New Hampshire.