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State Budget Cuts Burn Tobacco Prevention Programs

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State smoking-prevention programs are being slashed or even shut down as states grapple with massive budget deficits, the Associated Press reported May 27.

In Vermont, for example, state lawmakers are cutting $1.9 million from antismoking efforts, while Washington state legislators slashed a whopping $22 million over two years from a prevention campaign that includes a quit line and TV and radio ads.

Maryland's tobacco-control budget was cut from $16.7 million last year to $4.6 million, while Colorado cut $6 million from its tobacco education and cessation program even as it raised cigarette taxes and took money from a cash reserve account funded with proceeds from the 1998 nationwide tobacco settlement.

“You're seeing disproportionate cuts to tobacco prevention and cessation programs, and it's a foolish strategy,” said Thomas Carr of the American Lung Association. “It may solve the budget deficit now, but it increases your costs in the long run, because of the costs tobacco use imposes on state economies in healthcare costs and lost productivity.”

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