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Tobacco prevention, funding a must to save more lives

CHELSEY HILDEBRAND

Camp Hill

Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable illness and death in the United States. It costs Pennsylvania $6.38 billion a year in healthcare and lost productivity — that’s more than $17 million a day!

Last year, more than 5,700 youth started vaping daily; despite this fact, and the fact that the U.S. Surgeon General declared e-cigarette use epidemic among youth, some Pennsylvania lawmakers are seeking to defund these proven and effective programs in the Commonwealth.

Tobacco prevention and cessation programming funds have been ruthlessly redirected in the past. In 1998, Pennsylvania, along with 45 other states, entered into a Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) with the tobacco industry.

The agreement stated that the commonwealth will receive funding in perpetuity for tobacco prevention and cessation programs.

Pennsylvania’s prevention and control programs work. The results are compelling.

The American Lung Association in Pennsylvania partners with Pathway to Recovery and the Northcentral Pennsylvania Area Health Education Center to provide comprehensive tobacco control services to Northcentral residents including prevention, cessation and smoke free housing and worksite programs and services.

Not funding these programs will result in an increase of e-cigarette use by our youth, and more people will die from tobacco use.

Lawmakers need to keep the promise made in 1998: That the MSA money will be spent on keeping people from a lifetime of addiction to save more lives.

Do the lives of Pennsylvania citizens mean more than its budget?

(Chelsey Hildebrand is with the American Lung Association in Camp Hill.)

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