EDITORIAL

Making fight against tobacco a priority in RI

Posted

By now, neither the personal health risks nor the enormous public health consequences of smoking are unfamiliar to anyone.

For years, we have known that smoking and tobacco use are linked to cancer, heart disease, asthma, emphysema and other maladies. We also know that even second-hand exposure to smoke can have deadly consequences. Across the nation, hundreds of thousands of people die annually as a result of tobacco use.

Rhode Island has taken significant steps to combat tobacco use in recent years, including the 2005 adoption of a ban on indoor smoking in public places. However, much more work remains.

A recent report from the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, or ACS CAN, found that Rhode Island is falling short in terms of its funding for tobacco-use prevention and cessation programming.

The report notes that Rhode Island spends $390,926 each year on prevention and cessation programs – a small fraction of what is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a pittance compared to the roughly $150 million the state receives annually from tobacco taxes.

The ACS CAN report indicates that other states, including California, Massachusetts and Washington, have seen their respective investments in tobacco control programs pay off through significant health care savings.

In addition to calling for additional spending to support comprehensive tobacco prevention and cessation programming, ACS CAN is pushing for the age at which people can legally purchase tobacco products to be increased from 18 to 21.

Doing so, the report asserts, would reduce the smoking rate by 12 percent nationally and help save many thousands of lives. The rise of electronic cigarettes and the increasingly widespread use of vaping devices by teens make the issue even more pressing.

Some state lawmakers have previously introduced legislation seeking to increase Rhode Island’s smoking age, although their efforts have to date been unsuccessful. This is another area in which our state finds itself lagging regionally and nationally.

As legislators look ahead to the next session, we hope they will heed the call from ACS CAN for more action to combat the use of tobacco products in the Ocean State.

We understand the fiscal constraints faced in developing each year’s budget – and know that increases on tobacco taxes have often been used to help bridge the gap between revenues and expenditures. But given the vital importance of this issue, we urge our leaders to make it a priority in the next session.

This goes beyond politics and price tags. Helping people quit tobacco and stopping young people from ever starting should both be at, or near, the top of our to-do list in Rhode Island.

Comments

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John Stark

Real simple. Just ban smoking in all places, as well as the purchase of cigarettes. Period. Oh wait, purveyors of the Nanny State need the tax revenue. So they don't reeeeeealy want you to quit. Rather, they want some people to quit so they can tax the rest into oblivion, then spend the cigarette revenue and pound their chest that they've 'done something'. Hypocrites of the highest order.

Tuesday, August 13
The Skipper

Nice try, changing the story so my comment will go away as it disgraces the state and shows the truth of the states hypocritical stance on the smoking issue, So I'll write it in paraphrase again.

The state wants you to quit smoking like they want you to stop buying lottery tickets or going to twin River. and why would the state not want people to quit? How about the fact that they're stealing $4.25 a pack from the Rhode Island Citizen who buys a pack of those cancer sticks?

"But the tax goes to prevent smoking" You say? yeah? and they put up signs at Twin River from Gamblers Anonymous too. but how much gambling does that prevent ? And if they are trying to prevent excessive drinking in this state why do they comp people on drinks at Twin River? which is another question we should be asking?

If you want to really get people to stop smoking eliminate the taxes on cigarettes so the state has nothing to gain from it or at least make all monies from the tax go to smoking prevention and care for smoking related diseases. Maybe if your smoking tax did something to help the problem instead of reeking of cigarettes and hypocrisy people would realize it was a necessary evil instead of a hypocritical scam.

5 days ago
davebarry

Love the anti-tobacco folks. While I've never smoked cigarettes, I find the hypocrisy to be laughable. States are now talking glowingly of legalizing marijuana, salivating at the tax dollars. Who knows what is in the deeply inhaled marijuana? Does that smoke not hurt lungs? Where is the outrage from the lung association, american cancer society, etc.?

3 days ago
judie

This state always abuses the taxpayers by keeping the "General Fund" (the general SLUSH fund!) and never having designated accounts for money meant for specific uses. For years they collected gas tax meant to repair roads. Then they didn't repair them and we ended up having the worst in the country. They then increased the gas tax to-----tada, pay for road repairs. They took our E911 money, gave about 1/3 to E9ll & kept the rest. They receive money to pay for smoking programs, give a pittance for that, then blow the rest on who knows what. A big gripe I have now is: how on earth is JUUL getting away with advertising on TV???? I read that one juul cartridge has the same amount of nicotine as a pack of cigarettes. E-cig users are much more likely to progress to cigarettes also. Anyhow, why, when smoking ads are banned, is no one stopping the juul ads on tv??

11 hours ago