Friday, January 30, 2009

Funding Tobacco Cessation Is Good Fiscal Policy

Shortly after President Obama agreed to remove family planning funding from the economic stimulus package that's before Congress, various forces began pushing him to do the same thing with tobacco cessation programs. The Senate version of the package contains $75 million for telephone quitlines and other cessation programs, which critics are deriding as pork.

Partnership President Corinne G. Husten, MD, MPH, today urged Senators overseeing the health section of the package to retain this funding on the grounds that the funding is good fisal policy as well as good public health policy. She said the programs would create jobs and help rebuild the public health infrastructure.

"Funding additional quitlines and cessation programs will help provide more of the services needed to empower people to quit smoking," Husten said in a letter to Sens. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Arlen Specter. "Doing so will produce jobs to staff and promote the quitlines and other cessation programs. Given that smoking is responsible for over 400,000 deaths each year in the United States and for $193 billion annually in healthcare costs and lost worker productivity, this is no small matter."

Husten said the funding is consistent with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Best Practices, which calls for increasing support for state quitlines so that they have the infrastructure to provide comprehensive treatment to at least 10% of all tobacco users each year. She said it was also consistent with a Call for ACTTION (Access to Cessation Treatment for Tobacco In Our Nation) by a coalition of major business, labor, insurance, health care, and government institutions. The call is a plan to provide every American with access to comprehensive tobacco cessation treatment services by the year 2020.


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