Citizens for Healthy Michigan Will Fight Big Tobacco And its Supporters to Save Lives and Reduce Smoking
LANSING, Mich., June 24 /PRNewswire/ -- The following is being released by Citizens for a Healthy Michigan:
Special interest groups and politicians who raided Michigan's tobacco settlement from health care and smoking prevention today tried to justify their mistake by attacking a coalition that will ask voters on Nov. 5 to dedicate the tobacco money to health care.
At a news conference in Lansing today, the politicians and special interest groups that diverted the tobacco settlement joined to attack Citizens for a Healthy Michigan, a coalition that includes the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, Advocates for Health Care Access, Greater Detroit Area Health Council, Michigan Association of Homes and Services to the Aging, Michigan Chapter of the American College of Cardiology, Michigan Coalition on Smoking or Health, Michigan Health and Hospital Association, Michigan Osteopathic Association, Michigan State Medical Society, Tobacco Free Partners, and the Tobacco-Free Michigan Action coalition.
"What you saw today were politicians and special interest groups trying to justify the colossal and tragic mistake they made when they raided Michigan's tobacco settlement away from health care," said Art Knueppel, chair of Citizens for a Healthy Michigan. "Michigan voters will reverse the politicians' mistake on Nov. 5 and send the money to health care and smoking prevention, where it should have been going all along. It's only right."
Citizens for a Healthy Michigan is working to put the Healthy Michigan Amendment on the Nov. 5 general election ballot. The amendment would require the state, via the constitution, to dedicate most of Michigan's tobacco settlement to health care and programs to help people quit smoking. The constitution already protects funding for Michigan roads, parks, schools, veterans, and many other programs from the politicians.
"Michigan's politicians were the ones who took the tobacco settlement from health care," said Katherine Knoll, director of advocacy for the American Heart Association in Michigan. "Now we need to protect it in the constitution, just like so many other vital public services are protected in the constitution. The tobacco settlement was supposed to go to health care for Michigan citizens and to programs to stop people from smoking. Sending it to health care is only right."
Some Michigan public universities and education organizations also attacked the Healthy Michigan Amendment because they are benefiting from the politicians' raid of the tobacco settlement. Michigan universities have boosted tuition 20 percent on average in the past four years alone. They have also pocketed 20 percent increases in state funding over the past four years, while Michigan's health care providers have received about 3 percent more in state funding over the same period.
"It is shameful that special interest groups that have grown wealthy at the expense of sick and dying citizens and teenage kids who could have been dissuaded from smoking are now attacking our effort to dedicate the tobacco settlement to health care and smoking prevention, where it belongs," Knueppel said.
For more information, visit Citizens for a Healthy Michigan on the Web at www.tobaccomoney.com . The Web site provides useful information about the ballot question, how tobacco use is devastating Michigan citizens, and how Michigan has failed to dedicate one dime of its $8.5-billion tobacco settlement to health care and programs to help people stop smoking.
Knueppel said the coalition has already collected more names than are needed to win a spot on the ballot. He said the signatures would be filed with the state Bureau of Elections in the near future.