President’s Budget Devastates Nation’s Efforts to Reduce Tobacco Use and Save Lives

Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

May. 23 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Trump administration’s proposed FY 2018 budget deals a devastating blow to the nation’s efforts to reduce tobacco use – the No. 1 cause of preventable death in the United States. This budget would eliminate the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health, which helps lead the nation’s efforts to reduce tobacco use, and dedicates no funds specifically for tobacco control. While the budget provides funding for a block grant to states for chronic disease prevention, it does not require any of this funding to be spent on tobacco prevention and cessation activities.

The impact of the proposed budget would be to end the CDC’s Tips from Former Smokers media campaign that has proven so cost-effective at helping smokers quit, slash funding for telephone quitlines that support smokers trying to quit and endanger the CDC’s research on tobacco, including critical surveys that track youth and adult tobacco use in the U.S.

If these proposals are adopted, it would represent a significant setback in the nation’s more than 50-year fight to reduce tobacco use and its devastating toll on health, lives and health care dollars. Despite tremendous progress in reducing smoking, tobacco use still kills more than 480,000 Americans each year and is responsible for nearly one-third of all deaths from cancer and heart disease. Tobacco use also costs us about $170 billion a year in health care bills, more than 60 percent of which is paid by taxpayers through government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. It makes no sense to cut proven programs that protect children from tobacco addiction, save lives and save taxpayers money. This serves only the interests of the tobacco industry.

The budget proposal cuts funding for the CDC’s disease prevention and health promotion programs – which includes tobacco prevention – by nearly 20 percent (more than $222 million). This budget would eliminate dedicated funding for the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health, which oversees the agency’s highly effective programs to prevent kids from using tobacco and help smokers quit.

The nation’s fight against tobacco has been successful because it is grounded in scientific evidence, much of which is provided by the CDC. The proposed budget cuts could prevent the CDC from conducting the scientific surveys that, for decades, have been the nation’s primary source of data on tobacco use among both youth and adults. These cuts could also impede other CDC-funded research on tobacco use, including research that informs Surgeon General’s reports.

The CDC’s Tips from Former Smokers media campaign would be a major casualty of this budget. Since its launch in 2012, the Tips campaign has motivated about five million smokers to try to quit, helped about 500,000 smokers to quit successfully and saved at least 50,000 lives, according to the CDC. At a cost of less than $400 for each year of life saved, it is considered a “best buy” in public health. The Tips campaign is a prime example of how smart investments can reduce disease and save lives. Any budget that eliminates a proven program like this one is short-sighted.

The proposed block grant is no replacement for a fully-funded federal strategy to address the nation’s leading cause of preventable death. It is also disheartening that funding for the block grant comes from the Prevention and Public Health Fund, which the House of Representatives voted to eliminate after 2018.

The Trump administration’s 2018 budget would greatly set back efforts to reduce tobacco use in the U.S., putting kids and health at risk and increasing health care costs. Congress should reject these proposals and fully fund the CDC’s tobacco prevention and cessation programs.

 

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