Congress Should Reject Proposed Cuts… | Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
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Congress Should Reject Proposed Cuts to Critical Disease Prevention Efforts that Save Lives and Money

Statement of Yolonda C. Richardson, President and CEO, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
September 21, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Earlier today, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee reported the Bipartisan Primary Care and Health Workforce Act out of committee. While the bill provides funding for important healthcare services, it is shortsighted and irresponsible to pay for these programs by cutting $980 million from the Prevention and Public Health Fund, which addresses some of the biggest threats to our nation’s health, including tobacco use.

This bill sets up a false choice between funding essential public health and disease prevention initiatives and providing primary healthcare. We can and must do both to improve health, advance health equity and reduce health care costs in the United States. Congress should find another way to pay for this legislation.

This legislation ignores the lessons of the Covid-19 pandemic that we cannot afford to underfund public health. According to Trust for America’s Health, the U.S. spends more than $4.3 trillion annually on health care, yet only about 4.4% of that total represents spending on public health and prevention. The prevention fund was designed to rectify this imbalance. It is a critical source of funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including the CDC’s tobacco’s tobacco prevention and cessation programs, and supports investments in every state to reduce tobacco use, strengthen immunization programs, detect and control disease outbreaks, provide cancer screening, and much more.

Funding prevention not only saves lives, it also saves money. The prevention fund helps fund the CDC’s Tips From Former Smokers campaign, a nationwide media campaign encouraging smokers to quit that is considered a best buy in public health. Research shows that from 2012 to 2018, the Tips campaign helped about one million smokers quit for good, prevented 129,200 smoking-related deaths, and saved an estimated $7.3 billion in smoking-related healthcare costs.

We should be investing more, not less, in public health and disease prevention – including in fighting tobacco use, the nation’s top cause of preventable death.