Massachusetts Gov. Swift's Cuts… | Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
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Massachusetts Gov. Swift's Cuts Threaten to Destroy Nation's Most Successful Tobacco Prevention Progam

Statement of William V. Corr Executive Vice President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
January 22, 2002

Washington, DC — Governor Jane Swift has proposed cuts to the Massachusetts Tobacco Control Program that threaten to destroy the nation's most successful tobacco prevention program. Governor Swift's proposal shows reckless disregard for the interests of Massachusetts' kids and taxpayers, as well as the will of the Legislature and the voters who approved funding for the program in 1992. The Governor is refusing to spend $17 million of the program's $48 million budget in the current fiscal year (2002), in direct violation of the Legislature's expressed intent when it overrode her veto of the same amount in December. And she is proposing to cut funding to just $19 million in Fiscal Year 2003.

If she succeeds, Governor Swift's irresponsible cuts will destroy a program that has dramatically reduced smoking rates and is saving Massachusetts millions of dollars each year in smoking-caused health care costs. Smoking-caused health care expenditures cost Massachusetts and its taxpayers $2.5 billion a year. A 1999 study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that Massachusetts saves $2 in health care costs for every dollar spent on tobacco prevention, and it stands to save even more by continuing the program in its current form. The cuts in tobacco prevention proposed by Governor Swift are clearly penny-wise and pound-foolish. Even in these difficult budget times, the smart and fiscally responsible decision for Massachusetts is to fully fund tobacco prevention. The Legislature should reject the cuts proposed by Governor Swift and maintain full funding at $48 million a year.

Massachusetts has been the nation's leaders in tobacco prevention, but its leadership and progress are at risk if the cuts proposed by Governor Swift are allowed to take effect. Other states have learned the hard way that cutting tobacco prevention programs does not make sense from a public health or a fiscal viewpoint. California's progress in reducing smoking stopped for a period in the mid-1990s after funding for tobacco prevention was cut and resumed only after funding was restored. In Florida, there is evidence that cuts to that once-model program are already reducing its effectiveness. Cutting tobacco prevention is a decision that Massachusetts would surely regret.

There are few other expenditures that Massachusetts can make that will have a greater impact on the health of more people and the long-term financial well being of the state than the continuation of its tobacco prevention program. If Governor Swift succeeds, Massachusetts kids and taxpayers will lose.