SEATTLE, April 24, 2023 — The American Heart Association today issued the following statement from Ruchi Kapoor, MD, president of the Puget Sound Board of Directors, in response to the finalized budget funding for the Tobacco and Vapor Product Prevention and Control Program:
“The American Heart Association appreciates the State Legislature’s investment of $2.5 million in ongoing funding per year for tobacco and vapor product control prevention funding, as budget writers clearly recognized the importance of rebuilding the tobacco prevention and cessation framework in Washington State. At a time when use of e-cigarettes by youth has skyrocketed, we must do more to protect Washington’s kids and other members of our communities from the health dangers of tobacco and nicotine. Each year, thousands of Washingtonians who smoke die from tobacco-related illnesses including heart disease and lung cancer, and the tobacco industry is relentless in its efforts to hook kids and communities of color with their harmful products. This is a crucial first step and we must continue our work to fully rebuild these lifesaving programs.”
On March 6, 2023, American Heart Association volunteers, including Dr. Kapoor, joined forces with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network to meet with lawmakers urging $15 million in funding for the tobacco and vapor product prevention and control program, which is 21% of the Center for Disease Control’s recommended amount to protect Washington’s kids from all tobacco. As state funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs has dropped, an alarming number of youth have started using tobacco products, especially e-cigarettes. Additionally, communities of color and the LGBTQ+ community are disproportionally affected, including higher tobacco use and increased health disparities in those communities.[i] The tobacco industry’s aggressive targeting of these communities underscores the dire need for community-based prevention, education, and cessation efforts.
Tobacco prevention and cessation programs not only reduce smoking rates and save lives, they also save money by reducing tobacco-related health care costs. When well-funded, the Washington Tobacco Prevention and Control Program saved $5 in health care costs for every $1 invested.[ii] This strong return on investment demonstrates that tobacco prevention is one of the smartest and most fiscally responsible investments our state can make.
About the American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on heart.org, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.
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[i] Washington State Department of Health, Washington Tobacco Facts, 2015. https://doh.wa.gov/data-statistical-reports/health-behaviors/tobacco
[ii] Julia A. Dilley, Program, Policy and Price Interventions for Tobacco Control: Quantifying the Return on Investment of a State Tobacco Control Program, American Journal of Public Health, 2011, http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/abs/10.2105/AJPH.2011.300506.