Thursday, November 19, 2009

ACS: American Cancer Society Marks 34th Great American Smokeout® Reminds public of need for state tobacco control and cessation programs

Released today to honor the Great American Smokeout:

Madison, Wis.—November 19, 2009 The American Cancer Society marks the 34th Great American Smokeout® on November 19th by encouraging smokers to quit and reminding the public of the importance of tobacco control and cessation programs. Quitting smoking is one of the most effective ways a person can reduce their risk of cancer, but quitting smoking isn’t easy and getting help can be difficult.

This year Wisconsin’s tobacco control and prevention program was cut by 55 percent.  While cuts were expected during these difficult economic times, the programs affected, including the tobacco QuitLine, have proven successful at reducing tobacco use in Wisconsin.

Since the program started in 2001 smoking rates in Wisconsin have substantially declined. Last year the adult smoking rate hit an all time low of 19 percent, which is below the national average. However, these gains won’t continue indefinitely.

“Reducing Wisconsin’s tobacco burden requires ongoing education and continued resources to help people quit smoking,” said Bob Meyer, Wisconsin Government Relations Director for the American Cancer Society. “We understand that Wisconsin is facing unprecedented fiscal challenges, but these programs save money and save lives. In the big picture, there are just as many financial reasons as there are health reasons to maintain a strong tobacco cessation and control program,” said Meyer.

Each year more than 8,000 people in Wisconsin die of tobacco-related illness and the state spends more than $2.2 billion dollars in health care dollars treating such illness; $500 million of which comes straight from taxpayers in the form of Medicaid payments.

Funding for the tobacco control program was reduced to just under $7 million this budget. The Centers for Disease Control recommends Wisconsin spend $64 million a year to adequately combat tobacco use in the state.

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