ground in tobacco fight
January 23, 2012
Once a national leader in the battle against tobacco, Ohio has
of its hard-fought gains, anti-smoking activists argued Thursday.
In the wake
of a poor report card from the American Lung Association, Ohio
renewed their call for hikes in tobacco-related taxes to fund smoking
programs and to keep the toll-free, state-run Quitline in operation.
year’s budget, state lawmakers continued funding for enforcement of the
voter-approved ban on smoking at bars, restaurants, offices, and other
for cessation programs disappeared once the Ohio Supreme Court ruled
ago that the state could seize tobacco settlement funds from a
created and use the money for other purposes.
we were on life support,” said Shelly Kiser, advocacy director of the
Lung Association in Ohio. “This year, lawmakers pulled the plug.”
As the state
turns its focus more toward prevention under its rethinking of
advocates are hoping the concept can include greater emphasis on
prevention and cessation.
asking the state to increase the cigarette tax, which raises more than
billion a year for the state coffers, or raise the tax on cigars,
tobacco, and other noncigarette products to equal that on cigarettes.
that, they hope lawmakers would consider dedicating 5 percent of the
cigarette tax to anti-smoking efforts.
increases, however, have been a nonstarter in the Republican-controlled
Assembly. Mr. Kasich and lawmakers are planning to do a midcycle look
at the state’s $55.8 billion, two-year budget enacted last year.
a lot of funding,” said Stu Kerr, tobacco program coordinator with the
Toledo-Lucas County Health Department. “We’ve got to get that funding
because clearly the state takes in money from the sale of tobacco, but
state down the road pays out hospital costs, which are horrendous.”
In a report
released Thursday, the American Lung Association graded Ohio “F” for
cessation efforts, “D” for tobacco taxation, and “F” for insurance
smoking cessation programs.
bright spot was Ohio’s grade of “A” for its indoor smoking law. But
is in question given a case pending before the Ohio Supreme Court
the law’s constitutionality and its enforcement.
Pollick, spokesman for the Department of Health, said the state might
to drag out its federal grant funding the Quitline because call volume
lower recently. It is also applying for another grant.
budget holds $1 million for enforcement of the smoking ban.
important to look at the whole picture of tobacco,” Ms. Pollick said.
Quitline is a wonderful tool, but we’re also getting at other factors.
smoke when they get stressed by a tough economy and a loss of a job,
also being addressed. We approach it with a holistic approach to
factors that cause smoking and the tools to help people quit.”
and other articles at the Toledo Blade