On February 26, nearly 100 advocates from across Rhode Island descended on the State House to participate in our Tobacco-Free Generation Advocacy Day – an event that the American Heart Association co-hosted with the American Lung Association, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. As part of the day’s activities, advocates shared their personal stories with lawmakers and urged them to invest more money in tobacco prevention and cessation initiatives in the Ocean State.
Southern New England American Heart Association’s Rhode Island Advocacy Committee Chair and Board Member Laurie Stephenson spoke at the event and stated, “As a parent, I find it alarming that 30% of high school students in our state report current use of electronic cigarettes. I know this is something my kids have been exposed to – as have many of the youth advocates here today. In addition, almost 5% of high school students and more than 14% of adults in Rhode Island still smoke. The need for preventive and supportive programs is critical.”
Our partners at the American Lung Association recently gave Rhode Island a failing grade for investments in tobacco control. Why did our state get an “F”? Because Rhode Island collects more than $140 million per year in tobacco tax revenue and less than $400,000 is invested in tobacco prevention and cessation. This is unacceptable and more funding is needed.
The CDC recommends that Rhode Island spend a minimum of $12.8 million annually on these programs. In comparison, to the $25 million that the tobacco industry spends to market their products in our state and in our communities.
“With the epidemic of e-cigarette use among our youth, investment in our state’s tobacco control program is more important than ever. We must do more to prevent nicotine and tobacco addiction in youth – and we must do more to help current smokers quit for good. Tobacco tax revenue should fund tobacco prevention and cessation programs. An “F” isn’t good enough for Rhode Islanders,” said Megan Tucker, Southern New England Government Relations Director & Regional Lead.
Want to get more involved? Click the following link to contact your legislators today: https://act.yourethecure.org/iHC89qn.