Call to Action: Restore MT Tobacco Use Prevention

Thursday Feb. 3rd, 2011

Montana Tobacco Use Prevention Program Decimated by State Legislators

$8.2 million of a $9 million dollar budget for the program was just slashed by the Health and Human Services Subcommittee.

Senator Dave Lewis of Helena moved to eliminate the funding for the Montana Tobacco Use Prevention Program and Representative. Don Roberts of Billings, Representative Tom Burnett of Bozeman, Representative John Esp of Big Timber, and Senator Jason Priest of Red Lodge supported him by voting to eliminate the $8.4 Annual budget of the Nationally recognized Montana Tobacco Use Prevention Program.

Senator Dave Lewis (R-Helena), vice-chair of the subcommittee felt that spending the money trying to get Montanans that are still smoking to stop was not a good buy.

The program is paid for with money from the tobacco master settlement. Under the settlement, the tobacco companies pay money to states on a yearly basis. That money is supposed to make up for tobacco-related health care costs.

The program reaches much of Montana through community-based programs like the Gallatin County Tobacco Use Prevention Program in over 50 counties, and all seven Indian Reservations.

It includes the Montana Tobacco Quit Line, and employees 80 people. With a 90% budget cut, most of that will have to go.

Officials in the health department think the cuts are a big mistake.

According to Todd Harwell, Chronic Disease Programs Bureau Chief, reducing the funding or cutting the funding for this program will significantly limit our ability to keep Montanans healthy.