HARTFORD, CT (WCBS 880 / AP) – Out of fifty states, Connecticut ranks 45th when it comes to protecting kids from tobacco products or helping smokers in the state to quit.

WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau reports

George Jepsen, Connecticut Attorney General-Elect, notes that, in the last year, Connecticut has cut funding for this effort from $6 million to just $400,000.

“This is very disturbing,” Jepson told WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau. “The payoff in getting kids not to smoke is huge.”

Jepsen says he will urge lawmakers to dedicate most of the $500 million in tobacco settlement money Connecticut will collect this year towards smoking prevention efforts, not just the 1 percent that has been budgeted.

New Jersey ranks 46th in the nation in funding programs to prevent kids from smoking and to help smokers quit.

The American Cancer Society released the report on Wednesday, one day before the Great American Smokeout.

The report finds New Jersey currently spends $600,000 annually on tobacco prevention and cessation programs. That’s down from $7.6 million last year.

The money has been shifted to help balance the budget.

The cancer society says 17 percent of New Jersey high school students smoke.

Nationally, the report finds most states are failing to adequately fund programs to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit. Funding for the programs has been cut to the lowest level since 1999.

New York ranks 18th on the list.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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