Preserve Pennsylvania's Successful Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Programs
Dear [Decision Maker],
Cigarette smoking harms nearly every organ of the body, causes many diseases and reduces the health of smokers in general. Quitting smoking lowers your risk for smoking-related diseases and can add years to your life. (PA Department of Health)
As you consider the details of the FY 2018 budget, we urge you to maintain funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs at $14 million.Background:Through the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement, the major tobacco companies settled claims with 46 states, including Pennsylvania, to recover Medicaid costs associated with treating tobacco-related illnesses. In exchange for the states dropping their lawsuits, the tobacco companies agreed to make annual payments in perpetuity to the settling states.Since the General Assembly passed Act 77 in 2001, the Tobacco Settlement Fund has focused on funding health-related programs for Pennsylvanians, including tobacco use prevention and cessation. Since then, Pennsylvania has made significant inroads in preventing kids from smoking and helping adults to quit. More details on these lifesaving programs are available online through the Health Department's tobacco prevention and cessation program.http://www.health.pa.gov/My%20Health/Healthy%20Living/Smoke%20Free%20Tobacco/Pages/default.aspx#.WVPBv8TD-wWAlthough these programs have been successful in reducing tobacco use, more work needs to be done. As noted on the attached fact sheet, 18.1% of Pennsylvania adults and 12.9% of high school students still smoke, both well above the national averages of 15.1% and 10.8% respectively. Without state-funded tobacco prevention and cessation programs, these numbers will not continue to decline.
When tobacco prevention and cessation programs lose funds, smoking increases. In a state like Pennsylvania, where an estimated $2.07 billion is spent through Medicaid on treating tobacco-related illnesses, the cost can be significant. Total annual health care costs in Pennsylvania directly caused by smoking are over $6 billion.Don't make this Pennsylvania's legacy! We urge you to continue to fund PA tobacco prevention and cessation programs at $14 million.
Sincerely,[Your Name] [Your Address] [City, State ZIP][Your Email]