When the legislature convenes in January, we know that they will have a lot on their plates and one of our priority issues will be to persuade them to increase funding for the state tobacco prevention and cessation programs. Unfortunately, we are seeing the number of young people who use e-cigarettes/vape devices continue to rise. Recent reporting indicates that 30.2% of Montana high schoolers regularly vape.
Currently Montana funds these programs at a little over $6 million, which is well below the CDC recommended level for our state. Montana recently won their lawsuit against one of the largest e-cigarette makers, JUUL, and will be receiving around $6 million as part of the settlement. We believe it is crucial that the money be used for prevention and cessation programs.
$6 million may sound like a lot of money but to put it in perspective the tobacco industry spend $28.4 million marketing their products in Montana each year. While we can't match their spending, we believe it is crucial to increase funding so that we can hopefully prevent young people from picking up these addictive products and if we can't stop them from starting then at least have well-funded resources available to them if/when they decide they would like to quit.