Recently Gov. Ted Strickland and the Ohio legislature have taken steps to end tobacco prevention and programming in Ohio by raiding the Ohio Tobacco Prevention Foundation's endowment.
This means that tobacco prevention will cease to exist in Erie County because those who provide this program are grant-funded through the Foundation. Last year, our trained facilitators were able to reach roughly 1,500 fourth-eighth grade students with the Word of Mouth: Youth Tobacco Prevention Program. Additionally, adult cessation in Erie County will suffer. Currently, through an OTPF grant, we provide Firelands Regional Medical Center with materials and Nicotine Replacement Therapy so that they are able to facilitate our Freedom From Smoking adult cessation group program free of charge.
And last year about 30 people participated in the program.
In addition, it will mean the demise of the Ohio Tobacco QUIT LINE, which is owned and operated by the Foundation, as well as hinder the Erie County Tobacco Prevention Coalition.
Tobacco prevention and cessation has proven to save lives and healthcare costs in our state. Cutting these efforts as part of an economic stimulus plan will cause an increase in smoking rates and healthcare costs, only hurting the economy in the end. It also means 400 job losses in the health sector and will diminish the capacity to provide smoking cessation services in numerous hospitals, clinics and health departments statewide. This is contrary to job stimulus!
I urge the citizens of Erie County to contact our legislators to let them know this is unacceptable. We need to fight to keep Ohio's kids from becoming the next generation of smokers and help those who need quitting assistance.
Northwest Region of the
American Lung Association
of Ohio, Norwalk