Connecticut’s Congressional delegation sent a letter to Gov. M. Jodi Rell to find out why the state ranked dead last in spending its share of the $246 billion tobacco settlement fund on smoking prevention and cessation programs.

In December, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, a nonprofit based in Washington DC released a report that found this year Connecticut allocated no new funds to programs specifically aimed at fighting smoking.

“I urge Governor Rell to examine our state’s use of its tobacco settlement funds so we can help improve the heath and quality of life of the people of Connecticut,” U.S. Senator Chris Dodd said in a press release. The delegation has also asked Rell to provide them with details on the state’s use of funds from 1998 to 2007, in addition to future use of its share of settlement funds.

Below is the letter the Congressional delegation sent to Rell on Jan. 7

Dear Governor Rell:

We are writing to inquire about funding the state of Connecticut receives annually from the Master Settlement Agreement reached with four major tobacco companies in 1998. We are troubled to find in a report released by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids in December that Connecticut ranks last amongst the states in the amount of settlement money it puts toward smoking and tobacco cessation efforts. We would like to request a detailing of the activities Connecticut has spent its share of the settlement money on from 1998 through 2007 and how it plans to spend future funds derived from the settlement.

As you know, tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, and according to the CDC, over 440,000 deaths and more than $96 billion in medical expenses are caused by cigarette smoking per year. In Connecticut alone, smoking causes $1.63 billion in health care costs annually. Approximately 416,000 children become new, regular smokers each year, 5,400 of those in Connecticut. The 1998 settlement with Phillip Morris, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation, and Lorillard Tobacco Company was the largest civil settlement in United States history, and rightly committed these companies to paying states for the astronomical health care costs they incurred due to tobacco and smoking.

The Master Settlement did not dictate how states could spend this money, but a large portion of the annual settlement money should clearly be spent on health care costs and smoking cessation and treatment programs. The state of Connecticut has received nearly $1 billion thus far from the settlement, but has spent less than one percent of that money on smoking prevention, according to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. We understand that Connecticut has some recent and planned expenditures for tobacco-related programs, but those amounts still fall short of the Centers for Disease Control’s 2006 minimum spending target of $21.2 million per year.

We are concerned that the money Connecticut has been awarded in this settlement is not being utilized to its maximum capacity for the health of the state’s residents. That is why we would like to request, for review, a detailed explanation on how Connecticut has spent the money it has received from the Master Settlement from 1998 through the present and comprehensive information on future plans for expenditures in this area. We believe it is critical to remedy this situation and invest these resources in tobacco-related costs.

Thank you for your attention to this matter and we look forward to hearing from you.

Member of Congress
Member of Congress
Member of Congress
Member of Congress
Member of Congress