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New Report: Increasing Ohio's Tobacco Tax Would Fund Economic Stimulus Plan and Preserve Highly-Successful Tobacco Prevention Program
Date:4/23/2008

Strickland and legislative leaders proposed taking $230 million of the Foundation's remaining endowment of $270 million to help fund an economic stimulus package. On April 8, in an effort to ensure its funds are used as intended for tobacco prevention programs, the Ohio Foundation entered into a contract to transfer $190 million of its funds to the American Legacy Foundation, a national organization that conducts tobacco prevention and cessation campaigns. The American Legacy Foundation has pledged to use these funds for the benefit of Ohio. This contract was executed shortly before Governor Strickland signed into law emergency legislation to liquidate the Ohio Foundation's endowment.

On April 9, the Ohio Tobacco Prevention Foundation filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality and legality of the emergency law. On April 10, Judge David W. Fais of the Franklin County Common Pleas Court ordered the Foundation's money frozen and scheduled the next hearing for April 24.

At the time of the 1998 state tobacco settlement, Ohio leaders promised to use a portion of the approximately $300 million in settlement funds the state receives each year for programs to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit. In 2000, they created the Ohio Tobacco Prevention Foundation to receive this portion of the annual settlement funds and establish a permanent endowment to run tobacco prevention and cessation programs. However, Ohio leaders since have diverted annual settlement payments from the Foundation, and last year they securitized (sold to investors) future settlement payments for a smaller lump-sum payment, effectively denying the Foundation any additional settlement funds.

Now the Governor and legislative leaders want to raid what's left of the Foundation's previously allocated funds.

The Ohio Tobacco Prevention Foundation has a strong record of success. The Foundation's programs have helped reduce smoking by 47 percent among middle sch
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SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
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