Mississippi Attorney General Michael Moore Urges Tennessee's Legislature to Keep Tobacco Settlement Money Intact
NASHVILLE, Tenn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--June 26, 2001--Mississippi Attorney General Michael Moore, who first sued the tobacco industry on behalf of a state, urged Tennessee legislators to carve out a portion of the state's tobacco settlement money for preventi
``The number one cost of public health comes from tobacco-related diseases. We sued the tobacco companies to protect children and change the way the industry does its business,'' Moore said. ``I think it was the most important public health litigation in history. Don't let this victory be a hollow victory.''
Moore cited some examples in his own state to show how tobacco settlement monies have cut smoking prevalence and saved lives. Within a one-year period, tobacco use in Mississippi has decreased by 10 percent among public high school students, 21 percent among middle school students and by 31 percent among African American middle school students. The Mississippi legislature appropriates between $25 million and $30 million a year on prevention.
``We think our settlement money is well spent because fewer people die and fewer kids start an addictive habit that lasts a lifetime,'' said Moore.
``Every legislature has budget problems and Mississippi is the poorest state in the nation. If we can do it, there's not a state in the country that can't. The first step is to create a prevention program that works,'' he added.
Bill Corr, executive vice president of Washington, D.C.-based Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, also supports using the tobacco settlement funds for prevention and cessation. Corr was also in town to meet with legislative leaders.
``With 10 years' of experience with prevention programs in the United States, there's a rock-solid foundation of evidence that programs in Tennessee will reduce teen smoking rates, reduce disease, save lives and save money.''
In January, The Ad Hoc Committee on Tobacco Settlement Health Fund chaired by Sen. Roscoe Dixon and Rep. Joe Armstrong, recommended Tennessee spend $37 million of the $180 million tobacco settlement dollars it received last year on community- and school-based prevention and cessation programs.
Janice Nolen, director of program for the American Lung Association in Tennessee, says the settlement dollars could go a long way toward saving lives and money.
``Every hour a Tennessean dies from a tobacco-related illness and every year our health system in this state spends $1 billion treating those suffering from illnesses caused by tobacco. Putting the tobacco settlement money to use as originally intended will save our state health care dollars and save lives.''
Founded in 2000, CHART is a cooperative effort of the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, and more than 20 other Tennessee health and community agencies.