We at the American Lung Association are thankful for the court ruling that will allow Pennsylvania to recoup nearly $120 million in contested tobacco-lawsuit settlement funds ( “Pa. scores ‘victory,' gets portion of tobacco settlement restored” ). Spent wisely, this recovered subsidy could be the aid our state so desperately needs in its fight for tobacco control.
At the American Lung Association in Pennsylvania, we see, firsthand, the impact of tobacco use. And let me tell you, the picture is not pretty. The Keystone State spends $9 billion a year on health care and lost productivity costs related to tobacco use. Over 20,000 Pennsylvania residents die of lung cancer or other lung disease, and an estimated 11,000 kids in the state become new, daily smokers each year.
How can we stop the unnecessary and rapid depletion of Pennsylvania's financial resources caused by tobacco use? The answer: prevention and cessation programs. Every dollar spent on prevention programs ends up saving Pennsylvania $3 in health care and productivity losses.
Last fall, Pennsylvania lost ground in its battle with the tobacco industry when an arbitration panel cut almost 54 percent of the funding reserved for smoking prevention and cessation, medical research and other health programs. This court decision could help Pennsylvania regain important ground.
The writer is CEO of the American Lung Association of the Mid-Atlantic.
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