New report gives Ohio an 'F' for spending on smoking prevention

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - A new report out from the American Lung Association gives Ohio an "F" for smoking prevention spending, worse than every other state except for New Jersey. Ohio has the 6th highest smoking rate in the nation at 22.5%.

The CDC says smoking costs Ohio more than $9 billion in medical expenses and premature deaths.

Ashley Auciello with the Cincinnati Health Department says there is a correlation between the number of smokers and how much the government spends to get people to stop.

"It's unfortunate that you see the smoking rates rise in Ohio while in the rest of the nation they're falling and that's a direct result of losing funding," she said.

FOX19 asked some smokers if getting people to quit is the government's responsibility.

"I do not believe it's the government's responsibility at all. It's every individual's responsibility whether you smoke or not," said David Krikorian.

The American Lung Association says over the past several years the state of Ohio has spent up to $53 million a year on smoking cessation and prevention, but in 2010 the amount went down to zero.

Dennis Rahe is a former smoker who says funding for anti-smoking programs has been adequate.

"They're spending enough money to tell people they shouldn't smoke cigarettes," he said. "Most people are over 18, 20 years old...they know that they shouldn't smoke. If they want to smoke and ruin themselves...that's their decision."

Brian Bailey is a smoker who says people have a right to smoke.

"I guess the people that don't want us smoking [are] saying that we're not doing enough to stop this, but isn't that our right to smoke," he said.

Sonia Little has been trying to quit and says the government should stay out of it.

"I think the government needs to mind their own business," she said. "I mean we're all adults...if we want to smoke, we're going to smoke. If we don't want to, we shouldn't."

In Kentucky, with one of the highest rates of smoking in the nation, funding for anti-smoking programs has remained about the same over the past few years while the number of smokers has begun to decline.

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