Friday, January 18, 2013

Addicted Governments

More new evidence supporting the opinion that governments are addicted to tobacco revenue but less than committed to helping people, especially Natives and the poor, escape the smoking habit.
   The American Lung Association is reporting that U.S. state governments are taking in $25.7 billion in tobacco revenue annually but spending less than $0.5 billion on smoking prevention and control, which is a fraction of the $3.7 billion recommended by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. The same situation exists in most governments around the world.
   In Canada, federal spending on tobacco control has dropped by 40 per cent in the last six years, tobacco ( reports. Canadian governments take in $7.5 billion a year from tobacco revenue and tobacco taxation continues to increase and help fuel the contraband market.
   A cynic would say governments really can’t be dedicated to reducing tobacco use when they are so dependent on it.
   They certainly are not showing much commitment to reducing smoking among Natives. In Canada, roughly 50 percent of natives living on reserves still smoke compared to 19 percent of other Canadians. Thirty-two percent of American Indians smoke compared to 19 per cent of non-Indians.
   Smoking is most prevalent among the poor and those with poor access to good education. No wonder there is an Idle No More Movement.
More on this in Smoke Signals: The Native Takeback of North America’s Tobacco Industry (Dundurn Press).