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American Legacy Foundation Steps Forward to Fight For, Safeguard Ohio's Tobacco Settlement Dollars
Date:4/21/2008

Diversion of Funds in Ohio Sets Dangerous Precedent

WASHINGTON, April 21 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In a concerted effort to preserve Ohio's tobacco settlement dollars for their originally intended use, the American Legacy Foundation has asked the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas for permission to intervene in the ongoing litigation regarding whether these state funds, wisely dedicated by the State to tobacco prevention and control, can now be diverted for other purposes. The Foundation - the nation's public health foundation devoted solely to tobacco control and prevention - has also asked the court to declare that the contract it signed with the Ohio Tobacco Prevention Foundation (OTPF) is valid.

"We did not ask for these funds, but we are proud to fight to secure them - and keep them dedicated to the cause of tobacco control in Ohio," said Cheryl G. Healton, Dr. P.H., president and chief executive officer of the American Legacy Foundation, which was created as a result of the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) between 46 states and the major tobacco companies. "We are acutely aware of the price that Ohioans will pay if the state succeeds in diverting these funds from tobacco control. We also know that such an action will set a dangerous precedent for further erosion of the exceedingly small proportion of the MSA funds spent in other states on tobacco control," she said. "If we succeed in our legal claim, we pledge to use these funds for the benefit of Ohio and fully expect that we would create an Ohio office for this purpose."

Research shows that tobacco takes an enormous toll on Ohio - both in lives lost and dollars spent. Ohio's smoking rate is 22.5 percent, above the national average of 20.2 percent. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that tobacco use costs Ohio $4 billion every year in lost productivity and $3.4 billion in health care costs. A 2007 report by the Americ
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SOURCE American Legacy Foundation
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