Big Ballot Initiative Victories for ACS CAN

November 4, 2020

Voting for president and federal and state lawmakers weren’t the only important decisions that voters made yesterday. Public health advocates also scored big victories in ballot initiatives in Oklahoma and Oregon.

Thanks to the great work of ACS CAN volunteers and staff, Oklahomans voted to protect funding for a program that is key to a healthier Oklahoma. 

The Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Trust Fund supports medically underserved areas by recruiting talented physicians through its loan repayment program, funding health care for rural Oklahomans. It also funds cancer research taking place across the state as well as programs that prevent children from starting to smoke and help adults quit.

More than 59% of voters opposed diverting money from the Fund to pay for Medicaid expansion. The legislature and governor will now be required to identify different funding for that program.

“Today’s outcome is an enormous win for Oklahomans, who clearly prioritize their health,” ACS CAN’s Oklahoma Government Relations Director Matt Glanville said. “We are grateful voters recognized they do not have to sacrifice tobacco control programs and cancer research grants to expand Medicaid. The Legislature and Gov. Kevin Stitt know how to fund Medicaid expansion while maintaining the integrity of the trust; they simply need to implement those measures.”

In Oregon, ACS CAN volunteers staffed phone banks, submitted letters-to-the-editor, participated in events and more to pass a measure that increased the state cigarette taxe by $2 per pack and included its first-ever tax on e-cigarettes.

With over 66% approval, Oregon voters from all areas of the state fought back against tobacco companies’ efforts to target children, low-income communities and communities of color with strong support from urban, suburban and rural voters. Significant increases in tobacco taxes are proven to be one of the most effective ways to prevent children from starting to use tobacco as well as help adults quit.

“With Big Tobacco spending nearly $116.2 million in Oregon each year in marketing to lure new customers into a lifetime of addiction, Oregonians action to loosen Big Tobacco’s grip in their state is a major public health victory,” said ACS CAN President Lisa Lacasse.

Congratulations to all of our volunteers and coalition partners in both states on these incredible public health victories.