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Congress Must Reject Cuts to Prevention and Public Health Fund that Saves Lives and Money

Statement of Yolonda C. Richardson, President and CEO, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
February 06, 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to vote this week on H.R. 485 (the Protecting Health Care for All Patients Act), which would be funded by cutting $1.19 billion from the Prevention and Public Health Fund over the next six years. Public health is already significantly underfunded in the United States, and it is shortsighted and irresponsible to pay for this legislation by further slashing funding for the Prevention and Public Health Fund, which addresses some of the biggest threats to our nation’s health, including tobacco use. Congress should find another way to pay for this legislation.

The proposed cut to the prevention fund 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 is spent 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 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 saves lives and 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 129,000 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.