Statement: California's Tobacco Prevention Program Credited with Saving Thousands of Lives from Heart Disease

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

Dec. 13 2000

Washington, DC — A new report from the University of California, San Francisco, published in the December 14 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, credits California's tobacco prevention program with saving tens of thousands of lives from the ravages of heart disease over the first eight years of the program. The report from UCSF comes on the heels of a study published on November 30 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showing sharp declines in lung and bronchus cancer rates in California and attributing the declines to California's aggressive public health and tobacco prevention efforts. The UCSF report is further evidence that comprehensive state tobacco programs, when properly funded and aggressively run, not only reduce tobacco consumption but also save lives.

The UCSF report also estimates that even more lives could have been saved had funding for the program not been cut and its anti-smoking messages not been watered down for a period during the early 1990's.

The California data from the UCSF report and the CDC study leave no doubt that comprehensive state tobacco prevention programs work to reduce the deadly toll of cancer, heart disease and other serious illnesses caused by tobacco addiction. Prevention programs in California and Massachusetts have also been shown to quickly reduce smoking among pregnant women, thereby reducing the number of smoking-caused stillborn and low-birth-weight babies, spontaneous abortions and other pregnancy complications.

As a result of the $246 billion settlement with the tobacco industry, each and every state has the resources to fund programs similar to those already achieving results in California, Massachusetts, Florida and several other states. As the UCSF report conclusively shows, comprehensive tobacco prevention programs are not only reducing smoking rates for kids and adults, but also saving lives, improving health and saving millions of dollars in health care costs in the states that have implemented them. There is simply no excuse for any state to delay further in implementing an effective, fully funded tobacco prevention program.

 

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