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Tobacco Prevention Comes Up Short

 

The Governor's Budget Proposal was released last week.  Tobacco prevention came up short.

Sometimes simple, common sense solutions are the best solutions! Using tobacco revenue for tobacco prevention and cessation, for example. While the budget proposal contains $1.5 million for cessation, there is nothing for prevention. And, the amount is far less than what other states spend and the CDC recommendation for Ohio.

Ohio has an inequality between the Other Tobacco Products (OTP) tax rate and the cigarette tax rate that could solve a lot of budgetary issues for our state. By closing the Other Tobacco Products (OTP) tax loophole, we can:
• Reduce tobacco use rates among our price-sensitive youth AND fund proven tobacco programs. In just a few short years, Ohio has gone from an award-winning tobacco prevention program to being ranked last in the nation for tobacco prevention efforts--and it's reflected in our increasing tobacco use rates!
•Reduce the burden on employers. Lower smoking rates reduce employer health care costs and costs associated with employee absenteeism, lost productivity, etc.
•Reduce Medicaid costs to the state. An astonishing 42% of Ohio Medicaid recipients are smokers which costs the state $1.4 billion each year. Reducing smoking reduces the burden of tobacco related illnesses in Ohio.

The solution is simple. Equalizing the OTP tax rate with the cigarette tax rate is a win-win for Ohio, yielding increased revenue to re-fund Ohio's tobacco prevention and cessation programs and decreased tobacco use. I urge you to support this critical effort that will have lasting health benefits for Ohio!

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