Coalition Urges Governor, Other Health Groups to Endorse CDC Recommendations For Use of Pa.'s Tobacco Settlement Funds
HARRISBURG, Pa., Nov. 5 /PRNewswire/ -- A coalition of Pa. anti-tobacco organizations called on Governor Ridge, the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP) and the state's cancer centers to endorse the U.S. Centers for Disease Control
The Coalition for a Tobacco Free Pennsylvania released letters sent to the Ridge Administration, HAP and Fox Chase Cancer Center at a press conference held in the state capitol rotunda today.
``The nation's leading public health research organization, the CDC, has laid out a roadmap for reducing the human and financial ravages of tobacco use in Pa. based on programs that have proven effective throughout the country,'' said Bill Godshall, president of the coalition and executive director of Smokefree Pennsylvania. ``Turning our back on these guidelines would be a miscarriage of justice because it would fail to address the core problems identified in the tobacco litigation: the human and financial costs of the commonwealth's number one cause of preventable death, disease and disability,'' Godshall said.
The CDC proposal recommends that Pennsylvania spend approximately 25 percent of its settlement funds on a comprehensive, sustained tobacco prevention and smoking cessation program. The guidelines have been endorsed by the U.S. Surgeon General, the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, the Pennsylvania Medical Society and many other groups. HAP and Pa.'s cancer centers have made proposals for using settlement funds for treatment and research on smoking-related disease without endorsing the CDC guidelines for preventing this disease in the first place.
``HAP and Pa.'s cancer centers proposals ignore the wisdom of Philadelphia's most important politician, Ben Franklin, who said, 'An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.' It's time they endorse the CDC guidelines or explain how the nation's foremost public health experts got it wrong,'' said Jeffrey Barg, immediate past president of the coalition and chairman of the Tobacco-free Education and Action Coalition for Health.
The Ridge Administration is expected to release its plan for spending Pa.'s tobacco settlement money later this fall. Gov. Ridge has said that the funds should be used to improve the health of Pennsylvanians, but has yet to publicly embrace the CDC recommendations.
Bill Dunn, a board-member of the coalition who lost his voice-box to tobacco-related disease, spoke of the desperate need for tobacco prevention and smoking cessation dollars in the state. Tobacco prevention funding is currently so scarce in the state that schools which have requested he make presentation to their students have been denied support for covering his travel expenses.
The Coalition for a Tobacco Free Pennsylvania has developed a more detailed proposal for the use of settlement funds based on the CDC recommendations, which is posted on its website (www.tobaccofreepa.org).
The Coalition for a Tobacco Free Pennsylvania includes the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services, Allentown Health Bureau, Penn State University Agricultural & Extension Education Dept., American Academy of Pediatrics - PA Chapter, Bethlehem Health Bureau, Clean Air Council, CMSU Drug & Alcohol Program, Coalition for a Smoke-Free Valley, Council on Chemical Abuse, Health Promotion Council of Southeastern PA, Commonwealth Prevention Alliance, Delaware County Memorial Hospital, Montgomery County Health Dept., PA Academy of Family Physicians, PA Congress of Parents & Teachers, PA Pharmacists Association, PA Public Health Association, PA Society of Internal Medicine, SmokeFree Pennsylvania, TEACH, Berks Coalition for Tobacco-Free Youth, Tri-County Tobacco-Free Coalition, Hoffman Psychological Associates, Unionville High School, York Co. Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Youth, Venango Co. Drug & Alcohol Programs, West View Police Department and the Philadelphia Prisons.