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Senate Leads Americans Toward Better Health and Lower Costs by Preserving Crucial Prevention Funds

Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
September 14, 2010

Washington, D.C. — The U.S. Senate's vote today to preserve a critical fund for preventing serious and costly diseases is a welcome step toward creating a more rational, cost-effective health care system and a healthier society.

By a 46-52 vote, senators defeated an amendment that would have eliminated funding for the Prevention and Public Health Fund in order to pay for relieving small business of a tax paperwork requirement. The fund was established as part of the health care overhaul that Congress passed and President Obama signed earlier this year.

Americans spend billions each year to treat disease and manage illnesses that we know how to prevent. For example, smoking causes one in five deaths from coronary heart disease, nearly one-third of all cancer deaths and 9 in 10 deaths from lung cancer. Tobacco use alone causes more than 400,000 deaths a year and costs $96 billion in excess health costs.

The Prevention and Public Health Fund was established to pay for proven services that prevent these illnesses in the first place. Preventable diseases rob our families of healthy and productive years of life, and contribute to ever-rising insurance premiums.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa provided crucial leadership on this vote, and their efforts will improve Americans' lives. We applaud the Senate for affirming its commitment to prevent the very diseases that ultimately cost us the most to treat.