Wednesday, December 9, 2009

States Cut Tobacco Prevention Funds

According to a recent report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, all states with the exception of North Dakota have cut tobacco prevention funds.

Unfortunately, it doesn't appear to be a result of ineffective prevention efforts.
According to the news release for the report there is
"conclusive evidence that tobacco prevention and cessation programs work to reduce smoking, save lives and save money."
I think the cuts to tobacco funding speaks to a reality of public health work. As we get closer to accomplishing our mission, our mission loses relevance for funders (particularly the government). Some have already claimed victory over the tobacco industry (I heard this in Food Inc., which I watched last night -- awesome movie BTW). The claim to victory is no doubt premature. Yet it illustrates the illusion that I think many people hold that tobacco and its effect on population health in the United States is no longer "a problem" or that it is, at the least, no longer "a big problem."

Indeed, tobacco funding is just one more public health priority that has hit the chopping block in the midst of a terrible economy. My concern is, how long will it take to reinvest and recover these lost funds? And will it be done in a way that strengthens the public health system and makes our prevention efforts more successful in the future?

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