Anti-Tobacco Advocates Renew Plea to Restore Stop-Smoking Funds
A day before Senate Republicans unveil their budget, anti-smoking activists are renewing a public push to restore tobacco-prevention funding.
Both House Republicans' budget and Governor Pence's slash the $8 million annual budget for the health department's stop-smoking programs. Pence proposed chopping the budget in half, while the House-approved plan cuts funding by $3 million a year.
About 200 people fanned out at the statehouse to urge legislators to restore the funding. Indiana University School of Medicine Professor Stephen Jay says money spent now will save far more later by reducing smoking rates and preventing long-term health costs.
Jay notes even the current funding is a quarter of what the program received when it was created in 2000 with money from the multistate lawsuit against the tobacco companies. He says health agencies need more money to compete with what he says is the tobacco industry's quarter-billion-dollar budget in Indiana.
The lobbying day sponsored by Tobacco Free Indiana is the second by anti-smoking groups in three weeks. The American Cancer Society brought supporters to the statehouse last month to seek restoration of the funding.