Thursday, May 28, 2009

Devastating cut to Tobacco Prevention and Control as part of today's omnibus motion

This afternoon, the Joint Finance Committee will be debating an omnibus motion (translation: proposal that contains many different issues) that contains a devastating cut to the state's Tobacco Prevention and Control Program.  (Scroll to pages 17 and 39 of the omnibus motion to read the TPCP cut info.)

Here are the details:
  • TPCP is currently funded at $30.5 million for the biennium (less than a quarter of the funding level recommended by the CDC)
  • In February, the governor proposed a $1.8 million cut for the next biennium
  • The JFC restored the cut during an April vote (back to $30.5 million)
  • The JFC is now debating rolling back the funding restoration PLUS cutting an additional $10 million - nearly 40% of the current funding - for the next biennium
At a time when demand for the TPCP's services will likely increase (federal cigarette tax increase, likely state cigarette tax increase, smoke-free law implementation pending), this devastating cut must be rejected to offer adequate assistance to tobacco users in Wisconsin who will be looking to quit and to make sure we're not letting the next generation of Wisconsin kids fall through the cracks and get hooked by Big Tobacco.

1 comment:

Moondancer1 said...

I started smoking when I was 16 years old and finally quite after 34 years of being addicted to nicotine. I wish that Tobacco Prevention & Control had been around when I was a teen (before I was mature enough to make an informed decision about whether to smoke cigarettes).

It is absolutely CRIMINAL to cut TP&C from the budget, especially since I -- and many other smokers -- have paid extraordinarily high taxes on tobacco products that were presumably earmarked to fund education, prevention and cessation programs. Tobacco users, en masse, are responsible for the substantial tobacco settlement awarded to the State of Wisconsin.

The government and the citizens of the State of Wisconsin must take a strong stand against the tobacco industry and tobacco use. The stakes are simply too high to put smoking prevention and deterrence measures aside. Education and prevention are essential tools to stop people from smoking before they even start. Once a young person decides to smoke it takes a monumental miracle for them to quit.

Some people who support the budget cuts erroneously asserting that the statewide smoking ban makes the TP&C unnecessary. I say “horse crap.” It’s currently illegal for people under the age of 18 to purchase and use tobacco products but clearly they do. To make it illegal to smoke in public places may drive underage tobacco use into the shadows, but it absolutely won’t stop teens from smoking. We must continue to fund Tobacco Prevention and Control programs. We are all too familiar with the devastating costs and consequences of tobacco use if we don’t.
Melinda Gleason