Hawaii has done some amazing work to drive down the use of tobacco products in our state and while the use of traditional tobacco is at an all-time low we are seeing the use of e-cigarette/vaping continue to rise among youths. One way Hawaii has been working to address this problem is by dedicating money from the Tobacco Master Settlement Fund to the state’s Tobacco Prevention and Control Special Fund to support community tobacco control and cessation programs. Unfortunately, a bill was heard yesterday that would take that dedicated funding away.
Proposed bill HD 1296 would instead take the money and put it in the general fund and the prevention and cessation programs would have to go back each legislative budget cycle and ask for funding. These programs work best when they can do long-term planning and if instead of that certainty they have to go back each legislative cycle and hope for the best it will greatly impact the effectiveness of their work.
The tobacco companies settled with the state for its lawsuit in the 1990’s claiming the industry lied to Hawaii’s people about the health risks of using their products. The Tobacco Master Settlement was established to recover part of the billions of dollars of damages resulting from the deaths and health maladies caused by years of that deceit. While the tobacco companies agreed to pay this money that hasn’t stopped them from continuing to market their products. In fact, the industry spent $26 million last year marketing their products in our state. If we are going to stand a chance at countering this marketing onslaught targeting our youths we need to have a strong prevention program. That is why it is so crucial that we continue to keep this money in a dedicated fund where it can grow and be used in perpetuity to fight the industry’s efforts to addict new generations to its products.
hero_image_alt_text===A pack of cigarettes with money rolled up and sticking out the top
thumbnail_alt_text===A pack of cigarettes with money rolled up and sticking out the top