To the Editors:
Through the years, different surveys and media outlets have claimed Connecticut is the best state to live in, the safest state and the most underrated state. Today we have a new title and, unfortunately, it’s not a good one. We are one of only two states in the nation where our legislature provides zero dollars for tobacco prevention programs.
According to the American Lung Association’s State of Tobacco Control 2018 report, tobacco remains the leading cause of death and disease and smoking costs the state over $2 billion for healthcare each year. Investing in prevention programs is not only the right choice to protect younger generations, but also an economic win for taxpayers in the long term. If you want a second opinion on that, ask parents if they would prefer that their tax dollars go towards programs to keep their kids from using tobacco or towards their children’s healthcare bills as they face potentially debilitating, life-changing lung disease caused by tobacco use.
To add insult to injury, Connecticut receives over $516.3 million from tobacco settlement payments and tobacco taxes each year. That doesn’t include the meaningless $0.45 per pack increase in taxes passed last year, and yet prevention funding remains at zero.
Doesn’t it make sense to invest some of that money towards keeping the next generation tobacco free? The CDC sure thinks so, as they recommend the Connecticut program be funded at $32 million annually.
While I am a proud Connecticut resident, the math here simply doesn’t add up. The state legislature must act this year to increase funds that will keep our kids from using tobacco and help smokers quit.
Jon Rosen, Past Chair
Board of Directors
American Lung Association
Wilton, Feb. 8