Dec. 6 2001
Washington, DC — The Massachusetts Legislature has stood up for kids and taxpayers by overriding Governor Jane Swift’s veto of $17 million in funding for the highly successful Massachusetts Tobacco Control Program. Massachusetts’ lawmakers rightly recognized that even in these difficult budget times, tobacco prevention remains one of the smartest and most fiscally responsible investments Massachusetts can make. We especially applaud Speaker Thomas Finneran and Senate President Thomas Birmingham for being champions of tobacco prevention. Because of their leadership, Massachusetts will continue to protect its kids, save lives and save its taxpayers millions of dollars by reducing smoking-caused health care costs. The Commonwealth will remain the nation’s leader in tobacco prevention, and it has set an example for other states in affirming the powerful benefits of investing in tobacco prevention even in a budget crunch.
The Massachusetts Tobacco Control Program has already produced tremendous fiscal and health benefits for the Commonwealth. Tobacco-related health care expenditures cost Massachusetts and its taxpayers $2.5 billion a year. The tobacco prevention program is reducing these costs. A 1999 MIT study showed Massachusetts saves more than two dollars in health care costs from smoking-caused diseases for every dollar spent on tobacco prevention. In addition, since Massachusetts launched its program in 1993, tobacco consumption has fallen at four times the rate of the rest of the country, and smoking among high school students has declined by 15 percent.
Massachusetts can look forward to even greater benefits because of the leadership of its Legislature. There are few other expenditures that Massachusetts can make that will have a greater impact on the health of more people and the long-term financial well being of the state than the continuation of its tobacco prevention program.