Gov. Parris N. Glendening proposed today that Maryland spend $1 billion over the next decade on cancer research and anti-smoking campaigns -- from television commercials to free nicotine patches -- to make the state the leader in the anti-tobacco movement.
The money would come from the national settlement with cigarette makers, which Glendening (D) declared a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" to "take the tobacco industry's blood money and make Maryland a healthier state for everyone."
The announcement was quickly hailed by anti-tobacco activists. They have expressed concern that many states, according to a recent survey, have so far failed to earmark the billions being paid out by the tobacco industry for no-smoking programs.
Glendening, by contrast, outlined plans to spend $300 million over the next decade on anti- smoking efforts such as media campaigns to keep young people from starting to smoke and free Smoke Enders classes and free nicotine patches to help confirmed smokers quit.
He also said the state would try to help stop the very production of tobacco by spending $83.5 million on crop conversion for state farmers, who grow 8,000 acres of tobacco. And he said $100 million would go to anti-addiction programs for other substance abusers.
Half the proposed spending -- $500 million -- would be used for cancer research, with most of the money going to the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University.
Maryland needs to boost the spending because each day, on average, 66 state residents are diagnosed with cancer, 28 people die from cancer, 59 children start to smoke and the state's Medicaid program spends $379,000 to treat cancer patients, said Glendening, whose mother was a smoker and died from lung cancer.
"A decade from now, in 2010, I hope the governor of this state can stand up and start a speech by saying: Today, no Marylander will discover they have cancer. Today, no Marylander will die of cancer. And today, not one child in Maryland will take up smoking," Glendening said.
Glendening detailed his plans at a news conference at the University of Maryland Medical Center, where he was joined by dozens of legislative leaders, health researchers and other state officials.
"No question about it, from the standpoint of a governor's enthusiasm, legislative support and the support of the public health community, Maryland is clearly leading the way right now," said Bill Novelli, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, a national group.
Maryland is slated to receive about $4.4 billion over the next 25 years as part of a national settlement with cigarette makers worked out last year. According to state estimates of the payout, Maryland will receive about $1.7 billion of the money over the next 10 years.
In addition to the $1 billion in anti-smoking and cancer research efforts, Glendening called for spending the remaining $700 million on education programs over the next decade and said he would announce details in the fall.
Legally, the governor cannot obligate state spending beyond his four-year term in office, but Glendening and state Democratic legislative leaders said they expect the benefits of anti-smoking efforts to be so dramatic that no future governor would dare cut them.
Future governors are "certainly not going to touch a nickel of the money. The legislature won't let it happen. We're going to see results," said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Thomas L. Bromwell (D-Baltimore County).
House Appropriations Committee Chairman Howard P. Rawlings (D-Baltimore) said he did not anticipate future wrangling over the money.
"This is the most visionary, forward approach in the nation," Rawlings said of the plan.
At least $100 million of the $300 million the governor has proposed spending on anti-smoking programs would be directed at minority communities by working through hospitals, clinics, churches, community organizations and minority-owned businesses. "We all know the tobacco industry targeted this community," Glendening said. "Just look where billboards were located and where advertisements were placed."
For cancer research, the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins each will receive about $25 million a year, more than double what they had requested in state funding annually for cancer research.
Glendening said the two universities would be asked to develop specific research plans for the money. The governor also said he would form three task forces to oversee the programs.
Concentrating the settlement money on anti-tobacco efforts runs counter to what many states are doing with the cash windfall. A recent survey by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids found that more than two-thirds of the states have not made decisions on how to spend the money or had decided not to spend it on anti-tobacco programs.
In California, for example, the state is sharing the money with cities and counties, and Los Angeles is considering using some of its share for new sidewalks. Other states have considered using the money to cut taxes.
Nine states have devoted substantial money to anti-tobacco programs, including Virginia, which is spending 10 percent of its share -- about $13 million annually.
"The difference [in Maryland] is the level of commitment by the governor and lieutenant governor. They're not just slapping together a program. They're going to do a great program," said Eric Gally, a Maryland lobbyist for the American Cancer Society.
CAPTION: Gov. Parris N. Glendening (D) receives a pat on the back from Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend (D) after announcing anti-smoking initiatives.