Connecticut Health Advocates Condemn Lawmakers For Failing To Protect Youth From A Lifetime Of Nicotine Addiction
(May 15, 2018) - HARTFORD, Conn.
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Following the signing of the Connecticut State Budget by Governor Malloy, leaders from the American Cancer Society/Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, and the MATCH Coalition condemned the Governor and legislature for passing a state budget that will undoubtedly cause harm to public health. The budget eliminates all future funding of the Tobacco and Health Trust Fund which is the sole source of state tobacco prevention programs.
“The elimination of the Tobacco and Health Trust Fund by state lawmakers sends a clear message that the both current and future smokers in Connecticut are not worth investing necessary resources in. 4,900 Connecticut residents die of tobacco related diseases annually and an estimated 56,000 children living in Connecticut today will eventually die from smoking-related illnesses. Not only does this budget dismiss children, but it likely puts additional people at risk. This budget shockingly goes to a new low for the illustration of pennywise and pound stupid,” says Ruth Canovi, Director of Public Policy at the American Lung Association in Connecticut.
Tobacco costs the state of Connecticut $2.03B in healthcare expenses. While cigarette use rates have been declining, overall tobacco use rates are not. The tobacco industry spends millions of dollars trying to lure in the replacement generation of nicotine addicts, and as per this budget, Connecticut will spend ZERO dollars to counteract that.
Bryte Johnson of the American Cancer Society/Cancer Action Network and chair of the MATCH Coalition talks of the toll tobacco takes on Connecticut and the state’s inability to adequately address this major public health issue: “The CDC recommends that Connecticut invest $32 million in the Tobacco and Health Trust Fund annually. Connecticut receives more than $500M annually from the Master Settlement Agreement with the Tobacco Industry annually and tobacco taxes. Since Fiscal Year 2015, Connecticut has invested ZERO dollars back into tobacco prevention. That means 19,600 people have died from their tobacco use since Connecticut has invested in tobacco prevention.”
The Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids is a leader in protecting children and save lives from the #1 cause of preventable death: tobacco use. Kevin O’Flaherty with the Campaign says, “This decision to indefinitely de-fund tobacco prevention programs in the state is just another in a line of policy choices that show us that kids’ health is not a priority in the state. The bill that would help prevent youth to access these deadly products by raising the tobacco sales age from 18 to 21 still can’t get out of committee, despite growing public and support from law makers. In talking about tobacco 21 legislation, we actually have to discuss the potential lost revenue that will come to the state if young people stop using tobacco products. Connecticut kids are worth more than ZERO.”
Not only does tobacco use remain a major public health issue in the state but it also continues to be a significant economic drain. Studies show that Connecticut would save $2.48 for every $1 invested in its current tobacco control program.
“The people of Connecticut deserve better. We deserve a sound, long term budget plan that accounts for tobacco as the serious public health issue that it is,” states Jim Williams of the American Heart Association. “The state of Connecticut must renew funding to the Tobacco Health and Trust Fund.”
About the American Lung Association
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease, through research, education and advocacy. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to improve the air we breathe; to reduce the burden of lung disease on individuals and their families; and to eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the coveted 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and a Gold-Level GuideStar Member, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.
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