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Tobacco trust funds going to balance state budget



Published: Thu, November 15, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Tobacco trust funds going to balance state budget

EDITOR:

I am writing in response to our state legislature's attempt to balance the budget of the state while jeopardizing the health of its citizens by passing H.B. 405.

On Nov. 23, 1998 the Ohio Attorney General's office, with 45 other states, settled a lawsuit against the tobacco industry, yielding payments of $246 billion dollars -- Ohio's share of $10.1 billion has been entrusted in a state appointed foundation.

Until recently, no state dollars were dedicated to reducing Ohio's high smoking rates. Funds coming to Ohio through the tobacco settlement offered an opportunity to implement comprehensive tobacco control programming that has proven effective at reducing youth smoking rates in other states. The lawsuit against the tobacco industry sought to reimburse the states for their costs in treating smoking-related illness. A portion of these funds should be used to address the problem. Now, as programming is about to be implemented, the General Assembly wants to take funding away from the foundation to fill a state budget shortfall.

According to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Ohio's state government Medicaid payments directly related to tobacco use is $597 million dollars annually. Additional annual expenditures in Ohio for babies' health problems caused by mothers smoking or being exposed to secondhand smoke during pregnancy is estimated at $82 to $235 million. Much of the money from the tobacco settlement will implement a comprehensive program to reduce our smoking rates in Ohio, and the costs of treating ill smokers.

Smoking kills more people each year than alcohol, AIDS, car crashes, illegal drugs, murders and suicides combined - 19,500 people die each year in Ohio from smoking. Now, more than ever, the legislature needs to make a conscious decision to stand by the health of its citizens, like California, Florida and Oregon and keep the settlement dollars designed to protect future generations.

Tobacco control advocates from this area are all working diligently to reduce Ohio's smoking rates and the exposure to secondhand smoke. Let's not let them down by taking away their resources to save lives.

JOSEPH MAZZOLA

Cleveland

X The writer is a policy coordinator for Tobacco Free Ohio.

Military funerals should be reserved for veterans

EDITOR:

What makes cops and firemen think they are special and they should be treated different?

Each one applying for the job should know there is an element of danger involved, just like hundreds of other jobs.

Once on the job, if the element of danger is to much for them, they can always quit and get a good job.

Anytime a cop or fireman who is not a veteran receives a military funeral it is a slap in the face of all those who put on the uniform of our country and earned that right and privilege.

BOB NELSON

Girard

Evil knows no boundaries:all neighborhoods at risk

EDITOR:

I read the article by Jo Anne Viviano about the vandalism at Rev. Duesenberry's church. I am very sorry there are such evil people in our town.

I was very upset at his remark that they don't expect this kind of action on the West Side. I live on the East Side, and although we have our share of evildoers no one side of town is immune to it.

His remark made me feel like they think they are better than us, which I know is not true because we have a lot of good people on the East Side.

ESTHER WESS

Youngstown




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