Local Groups Say Texas is Not Spending Enough on Tobacco Prevention Programs

By: Cierra Putman
NewsWest 9

Anti-smoking groups in the Permian Basin say the state is dropping the ball in the fight against tobacco. While Texas hasn't started slashing tobacco program budgets, the groups are speaking out anyway.

They say the Lone Star State has been under-funding anti-tobacco efforts for years.

This year, Texas spent just over $13 million in tobacco related programs according to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

It sounds like a lot of money, but it's only five percent of what the Centers for Disease Control says the state should spend. Local groups say the lack of funding is putting them at a huge disadvantage.

"The problem in Texas is that Texas doesn't spend what's required or recommended," Mitchell Moore, Executive Director of the Palmer Drug Abuse Program (PDAP), said.

The Centers for Disease Control says Texas should spend more than $260 million on tobacco related programs, but it only spends a fraction of that.

"It's just not enough," Moore said. "We need funding to really make a difference."

After winning billions from the tobacco industry back in the 90's and a recent tax increase on cigarettes, Moore and others want to know why Texas doesn't spend more money.

"I'm not sure where all of that money goes," he said. "But I know it's not going to tobacco prevention or cessation."

"Midland and Odessa has had an increase in people not being able to quit smoking," Michelle Masoud with the Permian Basin Regional Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse (PBRCADA), said. "I'm afraid we'll see more smokers."

Across the nation, funding for programs to prevent and stop tobacco use is getting slashed.

Since 2008, funding has dropped by 28 percent.

While Texas programs say they're severely under funded both PDAP and PBRCADA say that's not happening here.

"At this point we have not seen a cut," Masoud said.

"We were blessed to see some money through the state of Texas from the Centers for Disease Control," Moore said.

Both groups work with kids to keep them from lighting up as well as help smokers quit their habit, but they say the money the state is giving doesn't allow them to make a great impact.