Tobacco Funding Increase Left out of Governor's Budget, Leaving Kids Behind

American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network calls on Tennessee Legislature to Provide Funds

February 19, 2024

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) calls on Tennessee lawmakers to appropriate more money to the state’s tobacco control program, which provides invaluable resources to help people quit tobacco and prevent others, including vulnerable children, from starting habits that lead to dangerous addictions. The need for lawmakers to act comes after Gov. Bill Lee did not include any additional funding for the program in his proposed state budget.

Lee’s budget was released two weeks after around 50 ACS CAN volunteer advocates met with lawmakers at the state Capitol for Cancer Action Day to stress the importance of increasing the funding. Volunteers included high school sophomore Anthony Xian, who told WRCB, “This can be an example for other high schoolers that you do have a voice and can use it.” Xian is concerned about Big Tobacco targeting kids, especially his peers in middle and high school.

In response, ACS CAN Tennessee Government Relations Director Maddie Michael released this statement:

“We are disappointed Gov. Lee chose not to recommend additional funding for the state’s tobacco control program, which is an integral part of the fight against cancer in Tennessee. We now call on lawmakers to come together to appropriate an additional $2 million to the program through the legislative process.

Tennessee gets more than $400 million a year from settlement payments with the tobacco industry, yet the state invests less than 1% of that money into tobacco prevention programs. This leaves the Volunteer State ranked 44th in the country in spending to combat the health and economic consequences of tobacco. We can and must do better.

This year, nearly 45,000 Tennesseans will be diagnosed with cancer, with 35% of cancer deaths attributable to smoking. We can reduce the number of people diagnosed and save money as a state on long-term healthcare costs by engaging in simple and proven practices. For every $1 spent on comprehensive tobacco programs, states save up to $55 in averted health care costs. These changes start with increasing this program’s funding.”

Michael is available for interviews upon request.



The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) advocates for evidence-based public policies to reduce the cancer burden for everyone. We engage our volunteers across the country to make their voices heard by policymakers at every level of government. We believe everyone should have a fair and just opportunity to prevent, detect, 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 advanced proven tobacco control measures. We stand with our volunteers, working to make cancer a top priority for policymakers in cities, states and our nation’s capital. Join the fight by visiting

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Stacy Jacobson
Senior Regional Media Advocacy Manager