WASHINGTON- Maryland’s spending on tobacco prevention and reduction was in the middle of the pack in fiscal 2001, according to a national report on states’ anti-tobacco spending.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported last week that Maryland spent $21.4 million, or $4.05 per person, the 17th-highest per capita spending in the nation.
“Investments in Tobacco Control — State Highlights 2001” also said that Maryland was spending only 71 percent of the amount the CDC recommends for the state, ranking it 11th highest in the nation.
State government and health advocates blamed Maryland’s disappointing rankings on first-year growing pains for its anti-tobacco programs and reverberations from a legal fee dispute with the law firm of Peter G. Angelos.
“While we may be criticized right now, we’re concentrating on long-term spending,” said Raquel Guillory, deputy press secretary for Gov. Parris Glendening. She said it was the first year of funding, and the spending will be ramped up over the course of the 10-year program.
Maryland did well compared to its neighbors. Delaware spent $4.61 per person, which was only 42 percent of the CDC-recommended spending for that state. Virginia spent $1.98, or 36 percent of its target, and Washington, D.C., spent $1.67, just 13 percent of its goal.
Pennsylvania spent only 10 cents per person and just 2 percent of its recommended level, the worst levels in the nation. Ohio was No. 1, spending $20.82 per person and almost four times the minimum CDC-recommended level.
The report, which looked at state spending on smoking cessation and prevention programs, compiled totals from tobacco settlement funds, excise taxes, other government sources and non-government sources such as the American Legacy Foundation. The non-profit foundation issues grants to government and private agencies using money from the tobacco settlement.
Kari Appler, project director for Smoke Free Maryland, a coalition of over 90 organizations concerned with tobacco issues, blamed Maryland’s ranking on the lawsuit over Angelos’ legal fees.
Angelos agreed to represent Maryland in its lawsuit against the tobacco industry for 25 percent of any award. But government officials balked when they realized the fee would be more than $1.1 billion of the state’s $4.6 billion settlement, or about $30,000 per hour worked by Angelos’ firm.
A judge has ordered 25 percent of the state’s federal funds be held in escrow while it challenges Angelos’ fee.
“Although the governor requested $30 million, some funds are going into escrow and won’t be available,” Appler said.
Linda Frisch, assistant executive director of the American Lung Association of Maryland, said the state’s ranking is not as bad as it could have been. Even though it allocated $21.4 million, she said, the state is unlikely to spend all of that money this fiscal year.
Frisch noted that the state had to do a baseline study, which was completed this month, before funds could be spent. And the deadline for plans by local health departments is in March, which means much of the allocated money probably won’t be spent by June, she said.
John Hammond, a spokesman for the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, conceded that the state is “still really gearing up.”
Despite Maryland’s relatively poor showing, health advocates remained hopeful.
“Things are beginning to gel,” Frisch said. “I’m cautiously optimistic. It’s just going to take some time.”
Appler was disappointed that Maryland didn’t do better but was pleased overall.
“Maryland is a leader in so many other ways,” Appler said. “We’d like to be ranked higher. We’d like to be a national leader on this.”
The advisory report was requested by the states as a way to show state legislators how they are doing and to inform them of what other states were doing legislatively.
It established unique spending goals for each state based on nine components, including population, the state’s number of smokers and the number of children in the state’s schools. Successful, large-scale efforts in states such as California, Massachusetts and Oregon were used as models, according to Terry Pechacek, one of the authors of the study.