Nov. 6 2002
Washington, D.C. — While we are disappointed that Michigan voters Tuesday did not approve Proposal 4 to reallocate the state's tobacco settlement money to tobacco prevention and other health care programs, the debate on the proposal established a strong consensus that Michigan must do more to protect its kids from tobacco. Even while opposing Prop 4, Governor-elect Jennifer Granholm committed during her campaign to increase funding for tobacco prevention. Governor-elect Granholm has a strong record of having worked to protect kids from tobacco, and we look forward to working with her to see that Michigan properly funds and implements an effective, comprehensive tobacco prevention program.
Criticism of Prop 4 focused not on whether Michigan should increase funding for tobacco prevention, but on whether the issue of tobacco settlement spending belonged in the state Constitution and whether the independent organizations established to oversee the funds would be publicly accountable. In addition to Governor-elect Granholm, many newspaper editorials that opposed the initiative supported increased funding for tobacco prevention. And polls conducted during the campaign clearly showed that a majority of Michigan voters want more funding for tobacco prevention. The defeat of Prop 4 does not change the fact that Michigan currently spends none of the $850 million that it receives each year in tobacco settlement and tobacco tax revenues on tobacco prevention. So long as Michigan acts to protect its kids from tobacco, it does not matter whether it does so through a constitutional amendment or an act of the Legislature.
Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in Michigan, killing nearly 15,000 people every year. Nearly 30,000 Michigan kids become addicted smokers every year, one-third of whom will die prematurely as a result. Tobacco use costs Michigan taxpayers more than $2.6 billion in health care expenditures every year. These terrible numbers did not change because of Tuesday's vote on Proposal 4, and they won't change unless Michigan's leaders make more of a commitment to fund an effective, comprehensive tobacco prevention program.