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Public Health, Faith Leaders Call on DC Council to Renew Funding for Successful Tobacco Prevention Programs
Date:9/14/2009

New Report Finds Failure to Renew Funding Would Increase Youth Smoking, Health Costs

WASHINGTON, Sept. 14 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- District public health and faith leaders today called on the DC Council to immediately renew funding for the DC Tobacco Free Families (DCTFF) Campaign, the District's highly successful tobacco prevention and cessation program.

(Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20080918/CFTFKLOGO)

Health advocates are urging the Council to maintain funding for DCTFF at its current level of $3.6 million annually so it can continue its effective work to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit. Unless the Council quickly renews funding, DCTFF will be forced to eliminate most of its activities by the end of the month - just as a 50-cent increase in DC's cigarette tax, which takes effect October 1, will encourage more smokers to seek help in quitting.

Underscoring the urgent need to renew funding, public health leaders released a new report by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids that details both the dramatic effectiveness of DCTFF's programs and the severe health and financial harm DC will suffer if the program's funding is not renewed. If funding is not renewed, the report concludes that DC can expect the following increases in youth smoking and related costs:

  • Youth smoking will increase by 9.6 percent, resulting in 2,400 more current high school smokers.
  • 760 more kids alive today will eventually die prematurely from smoking-caused deaths.
  • Health care costs due to smoking will increase by $42 million, including $4.8 million under the Medicaid program.
  • At least a dozen DC organizations will no longer have funding to conduct prevention and outreach activities to help smokers quit and prevent youth from starting to smoke. These organizations provide direct services to the most at-risk groups in the District, including youth and the underserved African-American, Latino and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) populations.

"City elected officials must find the resources necessary to continue funding for these tobacco use control programs that have lowered tobacco use in the nation's Capital," said Bonita Pennino, Government Relations Director of the Maryland American Cancer Society. "The withdrawal of city support will result in a rise in tobacco use among our youth and a slowing down of the number of adults who are seeking help to quit smoking."

"Our report makes it clear that DC will pay a high price if the Council fails to renew funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs - more kids will become addicted to tobacco, more lives will be lost and taxpayers will pay more to treat tobacco-caused disease," said Peter Fisher, Vice President of State Issues for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

In January 2007, the DC Council allocated $10 million in funding over three years for DCTFF to implement programs to help tobacco users quit and to prevent youth from starting to smoke, especially among Medicaid recipients and underserved residents.

Along with DC's comprehensive smoke-free law, which took effect in January 2007, and a doubling of DC's cigarette tax to $2 per pack in October 2008, DCTFF's programs have contributed to a significant decline in smoking in the District. Between 2005 and 2008, adult smoking rates declined by 19 percent, from 20.1 percent to 16.2 percent. These declines translate into the following health and financial gains:

  • 18,500 fewer adult smokers in the District;
  • 4,900 fewer premature deaths from smoking;
  • More than $175 million in future health care savings, including $19.9 billion in Medicaid savings.

Despite this progress, tobacco use is still the leading preventable cause of death in DC, annually claiming more than 700 lives and costing the District $243 million in health care bills. Sixteen percent of adults and one in ten youth still smoke. While youth smoking has declined since 2003, the most recent data show a slight increase in youth smoking, from 9.2 percent to 10.6 percent.

There are also alarming disparities in tobacco use in the District. In Ward 8, for example, while progress has been made in reducing tobacco use from 32 percent to 26 percent in the last three years, it still has a smoking rate ten percentage points above the overall rate for DC.

Other key findings of the report include:

  • DC has plenty of tobacco-generated revenue from the tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes to fund tobacco prevention and cessation programs. The requested funding of $3.6 million amounts to less than five percent of the $74.9 million in tobacco revenue DC will collect this year. (Ideally, DC should spend even more on tobacco prevention and cessation programs as the CDC recommends the District spend $10.5 million a year on such programs).
  • Tobacco companies spend $16 million a year to market their deadly and addictive products. $3.6 million amounts to less than a quarter of this amount.

About DC Tobacco Free Families (DCTFF):

DCTFF is a partnership of the American Cancer Society (ACS), the American Lung Association of DC (ALADC), and the DC Department of Health (DOH), with funding from the District's tobacco settlement funds. DCTFF provides community-based grants, quitline services, free nicotine replacement therapy, youth prevention programs, and a mass media campaign, all designed to encourage District smokers to quit and youth to never start. For more information please log onto www.dctff.info.

To view the full report visit:

http://www.tobaccofreekids.org/campaign/dc/dctff_funding_report.pdf


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SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
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