Nov. 6 2002
Washington, D.C. — Montana voters delivered a loud and clear message Tuesday: protect kids, not the tobacco industry. By a margin of 66 percent to 34 percent, the state's voters overwhelmingly approved ballot initiative 146 to earmark 32 percent, or $9.6 million a year, of the state's tobacco settlement funds for tobacco prevention (the initiative also earmarks other settlement funds to expand health insurance coverage for children and lower-income residents). Because of this vote, Montana can look forward to reducing smoking among both kids and adults, saving lives and saving money for taxpayers by reducing smoking-caused health care costs. The best state tobacco prevention programs are saving up to $3 in health costs for every dollar spent on prevention. Initiative 146 is a big win for Montana's kids, health, and taxpayers.
This vote reversed deep cuts Governor Judy Martz had made in funding for tobacco prevention. As a result, Montana will become one of the few states in the country to keep the promise of the tobacco settlement and fund a comprehensive tobacco prevention program at the level recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Montana will move from being one of the worst to one of the best in the nation in protecting kids from tobacco.
Tobacco's toll in Montana is devastating – 28.5 percent of youths currently smoke, and 2,100 more kids become regular, daily smokers every year, one-third of whom will die prematurely. Smoking-caused health care costs Montana and its taxpayers $216 million a year. If it maintains its commitment to tobacco prevention, Montana will reduce this terrible toll.