Health Advocacy Groups Deplore Arizona Senate’s Vote Repealing Local Governments’ Right to Protect Kids from Tobacco
Phoenix, Ariz. – Today the Arizona Senate voted 18 to 10 to support Big Tobacco over Arizona kids.
HONOLULU—The Legislature is set to vote Tuesday on House Bill 1296 that would eliminate funding for Hawaii’s tobacco control program, which has dramatically reduced smoking rates and health care costs for more than two decades. The funding comes from yearly payments from the tobacco industry, not taxpayers, as part of a settlement to ensure the state has an evidence-based and well-funded tobacco prevention and cessation program. This legislation seeks to stop using tobacco industry payments to fund tobacco prevention and cessation and would leave Hawaii with no permanent funding to fight tobacco use.
Following is a statement from the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids:
"Eliminating funding for a proven tobacco control program in the middle of a pandemic where respiratory health is at the forefront is a dangerous move that threatens the health of our state. We recognize that lawmakers must make tough decisions, however eliminating funding for Hawaii’s Tobacco Control Trust Fund to assist in balancing our budget is a shortsighted, misguided solution that will reverse decades of progress in fighting tobacco use. Repealing this stable funding will cost our state more financially in the long-term, and result in thousands of preventable deaths.
“For more than 20 years, Hawaii’s tobacco trust fund has successfully reduced youth and adult smoking rates, while saving the state more than $1 billion in health care costs. This fund was created with settlement money from the tobacco industry specifically as an ongoing, reliable source of funding for the state’s tobacco prevention and cessation efforts. Without using these tobacco industry lawsuit payments to fight tobacco use, Hawaii will see more lives lost and more youth addicted to deadly products. We will all face a greater financial burden as we’ll likely see health care costs increase, putting a significant strain on taxpayers and businesses.
"Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and costs the state and taxpayers roughly $526 million in annual health care costs. We’re also facing an epidemic of youth tobacco use with nearly 31% of Hawaii’s teenagers using e-cigarettes, while Big Tobacco spends roughly $26 million each year to market their deadly products in our state. Well-funded tobacco control programs are essential to prevent youth from starting to use tobacco products and help adults quit. Our youth and state economy are in jeopardy.
"We urge the legislature to reconsider eliminating the tobacco control trust fund. We must preserve our ability to protect Hawaii residents and the state economy from the harms of tobacco use for generations to come. Long after the pandemic ends, people deserve to live healthy tobacco-free lives, and we hope our lawmakers will reinstate the original law as it was intended."
About ACS CAN at 20
The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) makes cancer a top priority for policymakers at every level of government. ACS CAN empowers volunteers across the country to make their voices heard to influence evidence-based public policy change that saves lives. We believe everyone should have a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer. Since 2001, as the American Cancer Society’s nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate, ACS CAN has successfully advocated for billions of dollars in cancer research funding, expanded access to quality affordable health care, and made workplaces, including restaurants and bars, smoke-free. As we mark our 20th anniversary, we’re more determined than ever to stand together with our volunteers and save more lives from cancer. Join the fight by visiting www.fightcancer.org.
About the American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on heart.org, Facebook, Instagram or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1. Or call our Hawaii Division office at 377-6630, go to our local web site at www.heart.org/hawaii, and follow our Hawaii social media sites on Facebook and Instagram.
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.
About the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is the leading advocacy organization working to reduce tobacco use and its deadly consequences in the United States and around the world. Through strategic communications and policy advocacy campaigns, we promote the adoption of proven solutions that are most effective at reducing tobacco use and save the most lives.