The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network is celebrating the 39th annual Great American Smokeout by calling on state lawmakers to protect the health of Nebraskans by passing strong tobacco prevention and control legislation, including increasing state funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs and increasing tobacco excise taxes.
Currently, ACS CAN, the advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, in Nebraska is working with other leading health organizations to secure an increase in state funding for Tobacco Free Nebraska, the state's comprehensive tobacco prevention program to $7 million per year.
"The Great American Smokeout is about helping people quit, and we know increasing Nebraska's funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs is critical to helping people do just that," said David Holmquist, Nebraska government relations director for ACS CAN. "Most adult tobacco users want to quit, and lawmakers have the ability to ensure all people have access to lifesaving programs to help them through the process."
Nebraska has made progress on reducing the burden of tobacco by protecting its residents and workers from exposure to secondhand smoke under a strong comprehensive smoke-free law, which took effect in June 2009.
The American Cancer Society launched the Great American Smokeout nearly 40 years ago as a platform to encourage smokers to quit. Since then, the program has expanded to not only encourage smokers to make a plan to quit, but also to encourage all Americans to advocate for increased tobacco excise taxes, increased funding for tobacco cessation programs and comprehensive smoke-free legislation where statewide laws are currently not in effect.
ACS CAN works in partnership with state policymakers across the country to ensure that tobacco use is addressed through a comprehensive approach including 1) raising the price of tobacco products, 2) implementing comprehensive smoke-free policies and 3) fully funding and sustaining evidenced-based, statewide tobacco prevention and cessation programs.
"Despite major advances in the past few years in the effort to ensure smoke-free workplaces and to discourage tobacco-use through higher tobacco taxes, we've seen a continuation of dwindling funding for proven programs that help smokers quit," said Holmquist. "Now is not the time to back down on tobacco prevention policies. States must continue the positive trend of increasing tobacco taxes with new revenue directed to fund critical lifesaving tobacco prevention and cessation programs."
The use of tobacco products remains the nation's number one cause of preventable death, killing more than 480,000 Americans and costing $96 billion in direct health care costs each year. In Nebraska, tobacco is responsible for 2,500 deaths each year. States with comprehensive tobacco prevention programs experience faster declines in cigarette sales, smoking prevalence and lung cancer incidence and mortality than states that do not invest in these programs.
ACS CAN, the nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, supports evidence-based policy and legislative solutions designed to eliminate cancer as a major health problem. ACS CAN works to encourage elected officials and candidates to make cancer a top national priority. ACS CAN gives ordinary people extraordinary power to fight cancer with the training and tools they need to make their voices heard. For more information, visit www.acscan.org.