Lawmakers' no-tobacco goal aims to get results from state programs
A day after they voted to ban alcohol from cars, a group of lawmakers set their sights Thursday on another old-time Texas vice: tobacco.
Members of the House Appropriations Committee say they want to eliminate all tobacco use in Texas by 2010 and to include that goal in the upcoming budget.
Rep. Talmadge Heflin, R-Houston, said he believes that the goal will force the state's anti-smoking programs to show results -- or risk losing state money.
"If you're serious about your goal to reduce it, you must be serious about wiping it out totally because that's the ultimate in health protection," Heflin said. "If you're not serious, we can put the money somewhere else."
Other lawmakers who signed on to Heflin's proposal, though, dismissed the idea that anti-smoking programs risk losing money if they don't eradicate tobacco use in less than 10 years.
The state will earn about $9 million for anti-smoking efforts over the next two years from a trust fund it established with proceeds from the tobacco settlement, according to anti-tobacco advocates. They have asked the state to nearly double the trust fund and appropriate another $25 million for anti-smoking efforts.
Carter Headrick of the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids said he supported Heflin's goal but that it can be reached only if the Legislature appropriates more money to counter increased tobacco marketing.
"If we get a program up and running that's fully funded for 10 years, we're going to have a huge impact," he said.