House Appropriations Bill Would Greatly Harm Public Health by Eliminating Funding for CDC’s Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Programs

Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids | Statement of Yolonda C. Richardson, President & CEO, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids | July 14, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee today approved legislation (the Fiscal Year 2024 Labor, HHS, Education and Related Agencies funding bill) that would greatly harm the nation’s health by eliminating funding for the CDC’s proven, lifesaving tobacco prevention and cessation programs. The CDC’s Office of Smoking and Health leads the agency’s efforts to reduce tobacco use in the United States and provides vital assistance to state and local programs across the country.

This legislation is a gift to the tobacco industry and, along with other cuts in the bill to critical health programs, would be devastating to public health in the U.S. It makes no sense to cut or eliminate funding for tobacco prevention and cessation efforts at a time when tobacco use remains the number one cause of preventable death in the United States, killing nearly half a million people and costing over $241 billion in healthcare expenditures each year. This irresponsible action also comes at a time when youth e-cigarette use remains a public health crisis, with over 2.5 million U.S. kids using e-cigarettes.

The CDC’s programs are proven effective at preventing kids from using tobacco and helping tobacco users quit, thereby saving lives and healthcare dollars. Eliminating CDC tobacco prevention and cessation funding would end the CDC’s Tips from Former Smokers media campaign, which has been called a “best buy” in public health. Research shows that from 2012 to 2018, the Tips campaign helped about one million smokers quit for good, preventing an estimated 129,200 smoking-related deaths and saving an estimated $7.3 billion in healthcare costs.

Rather than eliminating funding for these critical initiatives, Congress should be increasing funding and doing more to help tobacco users quit and prevent kids from starting in the first place.

This bill marks the second time in recent months that the House Appropriations Committee has taken action that benefits the tobacco industry at the expense of kids and lives. In May, the committee approved a bill (funding the Department of Agriculture, FDA and other agencies) that included provisions that would block the FDA from moving forward with proposals to prohibit menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars and to limit nicotine levels in cigarettes.

Members of Congress must reject these extremely harmful proposals. They face a clear choice: Will they act to protect America’s kids and save lives, or will they side with the tobacco industry and help this industry sell even more of its deadly and addictive products?

Published by Tobacco Stops With Me on August 2, 2023