Selling off the payment rights from the lawsuit between 46 states and various tobacco companies over the damage done by tobacco to residents of those states - the Master Settlement Agreement - to investors without funding for tobacco education would eliminate the programs that have successfully saved lives and money in Ohio.
Part of the agreement was that a portion of the funds would be used for tobacco education and prevention. However, state policy makers propose to use the $5 billion generated for other projects and not fund tobacco prevention -- the thing for which the MSA dollars should be used!
Each year, more than $4 billion is spent in healthcare costs directly caused by smoking and more than 6,000 children under the age of 18 in Ohio try smoking for the first time every day -- at least 3,000 of them will become regular, daily smokers.
The American Lung Association of Ohio provides important programs through funding from the Ohio Tobacco Prevention Foundation like Freedom From Smoking -- an adult cessation program, Word of Mouth, a youth tobacco program and the youth campaign, stand.
And programs such as these work in reducing smoking rates. The rate of smoking among high school students in Ohio has dropped by 40 percent and the adult smoking rate in Ohio has dropped at twice the rate of the national average!
But, if MSA money is not allotted for tobacco prevention, the Foundation will be no longer exist in eight to 10 years and the programs which have proven to be successful will also come to an end.
It is imperative that MSA funds go to where they were originally intended -- to provide funding for tobacco prevention programs that would lower the prevalence of tobacco use and lower medical costs to care for citizens with tobacco-related diseases.
American Lung Assn. of Ohio,