Though prevention is a lot less expensive than the treatment of chronic diseases, Vermont legislators are now considering a budget proposal from the Governor that would cut $500,000 from tobacco and obesity prevention initiatives in Vermont at the same time the State is spending $550,000,000 on health care costs to treat chronic diseases like heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes, that are caused by smoking and obesity.
Annually, Vermont spends $348 million treating tobacco-rated illnesses and another $202 million treating obesity-related diseases. We can’t expect these numbers to go down by themselves. Additional spending on prevention could help lower health care costs by reducing chronic diseases in our state.
However, the Governor’s proposed budget proposal includes more than $200,000 in cuts to Vermont’s Tobacco Control Program (including evaluation funding that ensures effective spending of state dollars) and eliminates the $300,000 currently going towards obesity prevention efforts in Vermont.
Tobacco and obesity are definitely having an impact on Vermonters' health and their wallets.
While Vermont has successfully cut the youth smoking rate in half, tobacco use claims the lives of 1,000 Vermonters annually, 400 children become new daily smokers each year, 20.4% of Vermont's college-age youth smoke and smoking rates of low income Vermonters are 30%. the price tag for treating tobacco-related illnesses in Vermont is $348 million annually.
Obesity as well is taking its toll with over 60% of Vermont adults and 29% of Vermont children overweight or obese. The health care costs related to adult obesity related illnesses in Vermont is $202 million and this does not take into consideration the health impact of obesity on Vermont's children.
Click the following link to tell your legislators to oppose these cuts and support prevention funding to lower heart disease and stroke costs. Significantly raising the price of tobacco and sugary drinks is a good place to start.