Last week the House debated the State Budget; this is the second step in a long budget process. We knew it was going to be a tough budget year so we were not successful in everything but we were able to make some key investments in public health and access to care that we believe will make a difference for the heart health of the residents of the Commonwealth. We were able to secure language around changing how we package the kid friendly cigars; making it more expensive for our kids to buy these flavored candy-like products. We were also able to secure funding for Health Promotion/Disease Prevention Program and for an Office of Health Equity. Unfortunately we were not able to get an increase for the Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program which is very disappointing since we just were just successful in increasing the tobacco tax and now more than ever we need to help people stop smoking and educate kids why they should not start smoking. We will continue to fight for this increased funding in the Senate.
The budget process can be long, and in two weeks we will be working with the Senate on their version, and we are hopeful we will see a stronger commitment to prevention in their budget. I appreciate your ongoing advocacy and stay tuned for updates and opportunities to lend your voice to the debate!