Gov. Romney’s Tobacco Prevention… | Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
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Gov. Romney’s Tobacco Prevention Cuts Lets Down Kids and Taxpayers

Statement of William V. Corr, Executive Vice President Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
January 06, 2003

Washington, D.C. — Governor Mitt Romney's $10 million dollar cut to the state's tobacco prevention program is a disappointment that shortchanges kids and does more long-term harm than good to the state's finances. While the Administration claims the new round of cuts does not cut the muscle or the bone out of programs, this cut to tobacco prevention does that and worse. This cut is the fourth in the series of cuts made in the last twelve months which will completely eliminate a program that has saved thousands of lives, millions of dollars and been heralded by public health leaders and the Bush Administration as one of the best in the nation.

The program has long enjoyed public support. In 1992 voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure to raise the state's tobacco tax and dedicate a portion of the funds to tobacco prevention. Even in these difficult budget times, Massachusetts collects approximately $800 million a year in revenue from tobacco taxes and the state tobacco settlement. Surely a small part of this tobacco money should be used to reduce tobacco-caused disease and death. If only a mere five percent of the income the state receives from tobacco were dedicated to tobacco prevention and cessation, the program would once again meet the minimum recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The right course for Massachusetts kids and taxpayers is for Governor Romney to immediately reverse the cuts and to include significant funding for the tobacco prevention program in his fiscal year 2004 budget proposal.

A report we and other leading public health organizations released last week found the state had fallen from first in the nation in 2002 to 38th in 2003 for funding of tobacco prevention. Governor Romney's proposed cut would drop the state's ranking to dead last.

Cutting tobacco prevention is penny-wise and pound-foolish. In fact, even in a time of deficits, tobacco prevention is one of the best investments Massachusetts can make. For every dollar spent by the program, the state has saved two dollars in health care costs to treat smoking-caused illness, according to an MIT study. Because of the Massachusetts tobacco prevention program, fewer kids are starting to smoke, more adults are quitting and thousands of lives have been saved. A Department of Public Health study released last October showed that, from 1999 to 2002, Massachusetts reduced high school smoking by 29.7 percent (from 30 percent to 21 percent) and middle school smoking by 13 percent (from 9.2 percent to 8 percent).

Tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of death and disease in Massachusetts. It kills 9,000 more Massachusetts residents and addicts 13,700 more Massachusetts kids ever year. Tobacco-caused disease costs the state $2.76 billion in health care expenditures every year. Unless Gov. Romney restores funding for tobacco prevention, more kids will become addicted to tobacco, more lives will be lost and taxpayers will pay millions more to treat tobacco-caused disease.