Jul. 29 2002
Washington, DC — Governor Jane Swift has shown contempt for the best interests of Massachusetts' kids and taxpayers by using her veto authority to gut the state's internationally recognized tobacco prevention program. The Legislature had already cut funding for the program from $48 million to $31 million, and now Gov. Swift has further slashed funding to just $10 million, which would shut down critical tobacco prevention efforts across Massachusetts. This is the ultimate in penny-wise, pound-foolish budgeting. The evidence is clear that California and Massachusetts, with the nation's two oldest tobacco prevention programs, are saving up to $3 in tobacco-caused health costs for every dollar spent on prevention. The Legislature should quickly override the governor's veto of tobacco prevention funding and aggressively oppose any further efforts to cut the program.
It is incomprehensible that Gov. Swift would insist on leaving as a legacy the destruction of a tobacco prevention program with a proven record of protecting kids, saving lives and saving money for taxpayers. She is denying Massachusetts' kids access to the equivalent of a vaccine that can protect them from lung cancer. Massachusetts will pay a high price for Gov. Swift's abdication of leadership. One out of every three kids who become smokers as a result of her budget cuts will die prematurely of a tobacco-caused disease. And Massachusetts' taxpayers will pay more for tobacco-related health bills, which already cost the state $2.7 billion a year. This is how Gov. Swift will be remembered.