In 2015, the state of Washington received nearly $695 million from tobacco taxes as well as Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) payments from tobacco companies — money meant to be spent on tobacco-use prevention and education. That is not how our state legislators have allocated the money.
Despite the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggesting our state budget nearly $63 million to fund tobacco-use prevention programs, legislators are proposing to not even spend a penny to help educate kids about the impact of tobacco use.
I have talked with my state legislators about how the funding from tobacco taxes and settlement dollars from Big Tobacco are being spent. Regrettably, they insist the state has priorities more important than the health of children.
We know the easiest way to quit smoking is never to start. We know we need to get the message to our children as early and often as possible.
I stand with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network in asking our state legislators to dedicate a portion of the tobacco taxes and MSA payments toward tobacco-prevention programs. Please encourage your lawmakers to prioritize tobacco-prevention funding.(Kirschbaum is an ambassador with the American Cancer Society Action Network.)