Omnibus Appropriations Bill Boosts Lung Health Priorities

Today, the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives passed a bill to fund the federal government for the rest of Fiscal Year 2016. The bill contains several pieces of good news for lung health, both in its inclusion of funding for research and crucial public health programs and its exclusion of harmful policy riders to block health protections.

“The American Lung Association is pleased that Congress rejected numerous proposed riders that would have weakened clean air protections or enabled tobacco companies to market to children more easily,” said Harold P. Wimmer, National President and CEO of the American Lung Association. “This is a clear victory for lung health. The bill will support lung disease patients with important investments in research and key programs that improve lung health and prevent lung disease.”

The National Institutes of Health’s budget was significantly increased to $32 billion, which will fund research to fight lung disease including lung cancer, asthma, COPD, pulmonary fibrosis and others.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) saw increased funding for its National Asthma Control Program, which will allow for more states to effectively address the burden of asthma, and for the Office of Climate and Health, which helps states and cities across the country identify and prepare for the health impacts of climate change, including worsened air pollution, wildfires, drought, heat waves, the spread of diseases and more. The bill also funds CDC’s Office of Smoking and Health at $210 million, which will allow their highly effective “Tips from Former Smokers” campaign to continue.

Earlier versions of appropriations bill contained hundreds of dangerous policy riders that the Lung Association strongly opposed. One, pushed by the tobacco industry, would have weakened the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) ability to protect children from unregulated tobacco products, including flavored e-cigarettes and cigars. Others would have blocked or delayed Clean Air Act protections, including the recently updated ozone standards and the Clean Power Plan. Weakening the Clean Air Act would have meant more asthma attacks, missed school days, trips to the emergency room, and premature deaths due to dangerous air pollution.

Unfortunately, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) did not see an increase in funding, although the level in the final bill is an improvement over the draconian cuts proposed in earlier appropriations bills. The American Lung Association will continue to call for greater investments in EPA’s work to implement and enforce critical clean air protections.

“In short, we are pleased that Congress preserved EPA and FDA’s ability to protect kids from air pollution and tobacco products. These protections will save lives and protect the health of millions of Americans,” Wimmer said.

For more information, contact:

Allison MacMunn
[email protected]

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