To the Editor:
According to a new report by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the current Rhode Island budget is short sighted when it comes to funding tobacco control programs that that would decrease the number of Rhode Islanders battling serious disease, along with their treatment cost.
Tobacco is currently linked to thirteen types of cancer, and tobacco smoking prevention and cessation programs offer a straightforward way to keep Rhode Island healthier and to save money. Most smokers would like to stop: Seventy percent of smokers wish they could quit, but far fewer ultimately succeed. Unfortunately, most people who smoke today became addicted before they even turned 18.
Rhode Island State funding for proven effective tobacco control programs is now only $375,000. This amount is less than three percent of the level recommended by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. This level of funding has decreased over the past decade and is paltry compared to $142 million Rhode Island receives in tobacco taxes, and $640 million Rhode Island spends on treating illness caused by tobacco.
We deserve more rational budgeting. I urge Governor Raimondo, Senator Joshua Miller, and Representative Arthur Handy to increase long-term investment in our state’s tobacco control programs to a meaningful level. Such investment will not only provide better health for all Rhode Islanders, but also spare future budgets in treatment funding.
American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network Volunteer (ACS CAN)