True Conservatives Know Helping Smokers Quit Saves Money

May 24, 2011

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As states from coast to coast continue to struggle with serious budget woes, Tennessee's Lieutenant  Governor has a message for them:  Using public funds to help smokers covered by state health insurance programs quit is a 'no brainer.'

Lt.  Gov.  Ron Ramsey, writing in the Knoxville News Sentinel, points out that he's 'fought against government spending my entire political life.'  But, the conservative Republican says, the critical question to ask during a time of fiscal restraint is: 'Are we using taxpayers' money effectively or not?'  Providing coverage to help patients covered under the state's TennCare health insurance plan quit smoking is 'well worth the expenditure.'

Why?

Because in the long term, reducing smoking reduces the prevalence of costly diseases caused by tobacco use including cancer, heart disease and stroke.   Tennessee spends about $680 million caring for TennCare enrollees with smoking-related illnesses.

'It is better and cheaper to remove the cigarette from the smoker's hand than it is to remove the cancer from the smoker's lung,' he writes. 

Read all of Lt. Gov Ramsey's column.