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Opening Arguments

Up in smoke


 A new report shows Indiana is falling behind other states across the country when it comes to using money from a 1998 multi-state tobacco settlement to pay for smoker prevention programs.
   The state is ranked 28th in the study called "A Broken Promise to Our Children: The 1998 State Tobacco Settlement 12 Years Later," which was commissioned by the coalition of public health organizations.
   The group found Indiana is spending about nine-million dollars for prevention programs in fiscal year 2011, which is just about 12-percent of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recommendation.

I don't know how the CDCP came up with its recommendation for spending on smoker prevention or what the "right" amount would be. But all the states that strongarmed billions out of the tobacco industry for "health costs related to smoking" then just put a lot of the money into general fund spending were no better than extortionist thugs. According to a 2005 GAO report, 23 percent of the settlement money up to that date had been used for budget shortfalls, 6 percent for infrastructure and 7 percent for "general purposes." Indiana continues to receive settlement checks -- there was one for more than $123 million earlier this year. So far, we've received nearly $1.5 billion in revenue.