We are thrilled to be able to share that despite efforts by the legislature to repeal the dedicated funding for the Tobacco Prevention and Control Trust Fund the fund has survived the 2021 legislative session!
In July Governor Ige vetoed the bill that would have repealed the dedicated funds and the legislature did not have the votes to override his veto.
hero_image_alt_text===A table full of e-cigarette devices
thumbnail_alt_text===A table full of e-cigarette devices
You may wonder why Hawaii has this dedicated fund, let me provide you with a little background on the issue. In 1998, Hawai‘i and 45 other states sued tobacco companies for years of public deceit and health damages caused by their products and reached a multi-billion dollar settlement, resulting in the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA). The MSA included annual payments to the settling states that may be used to cover current and future costs of treating tobacco-related illnesses. Those settlement dollars were intended to be used for tobacco prevention and cessation work and that is why we fought so hard to preserve the dedicated fund.
Tobacco companies spend nearly $26.1 million on marketing in Hawai‘i each year, or triple the amount Hawai‘i spends on tobacco prevention and control. The $7.9 million Hawai‘i is anticipated to spend this year on tobacco prevention, which includes Trust Fund programs, is only 58% of the CDC's recommended amount. Tobacco prevention and control programs have a strong return on investment - for every $1 spent on tobacco prevention, Hawai`i taxpayers save $6.64 in direct healthcare costs.
According to the Department of Health, these programs have saved Hawai`i over $1 billion in healthcare costs since 2001. Beyond the financial benefits, countless lives have been saved from the harms of tobacco.
In case you are wondering why we still need a dedicated trust fund here are some facts on the issue:
- Tobacco use is still the leading cause of preventable death and disease - in Hawai‘i, it claims 1,400 lives and costs the state $526 million in direct healthcare expenses annually.
- Hawaii has one of the highest rates of youth vaping in the country and a well-funded prevention and cessation program is key to controlling that youth epidemic.
- The youth vaping epidemic represents the innovative ways the tobacco industry continues to hook our keiki onto their deadly, highly addictive products and the continued need for tobacco prevention and control programs.
- According to the World Health Organization, available research suggests that smokers are at higher risk of developing severe disease or dying from COVID-19. The ongoing pandemic has provided a compelling reason for some to quit smoking and e-cigarette addictions. Trying to quit during a time of stress might make it harder to succeed, so cessation services and nicotine replacement therapies provided through the Trust Fund are important resources to help them succeed.
Thank you for your support during the 2021 legislative session on this important issue.