Miller: State's Tobacco Prevention Program is Effective and Essential and Should be Extended Without Cuts
Sioux City -- Attorney General Tom Miller today told an audience of law enforcement officials, health professionals, community activists and youth that the state's tobacco prevention campaign is beginning to work but that the program would be jeopardized by cutting the budget.
Last year $9.3 million was appropriated for the state's comprehensive tobacco prevention program. In January, Miller urged the governor and legislature to allocate at least as much of the tobacco settlement money to the program next year. The federal Centers for Disease Control recommended Iowa spend more than $19 million on anti-smoking efforts.
The money comes from Iowa's $1.9 billion share of the settlement won by Miller and other Attorneys General to compensate states for their costs in caring for people who are sick or dying because of tobacco related disease. "It only makes sense to spend a sizeable share of that money for prevention so we can eventually end this terrible monetary and human cost to Iowans," Miller said.
"Our ongoing goal is to reduce the number of young people who become addicted to nicotine, and to reduce the tobacco-related death and disease that plague Iowans of all ages," Miller said. A thousand children take up tobacco every month in Iowa, and five thousand Iowans die premature deaths each year because of tobacco. Reducing this costly death toll is the rationale for the state program."
The State Program:
partnerships developed to play an active role in community tobacco prevention
and control activities;
The statewide counter-marketing campaign is in full swing. Ten different television commercials including two featuring Iowa youth are currently airing all across the state. In addition, the media campaign includes radio spots, billboards and newspaper ads. Web banner advertising and a counter-marketing web site are in development.
The enforcement prong of the effort is also well under way. To date, nearly two hundred local law enforcement agencies have contracted with the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division to conduct compliance checks of tobacco licensees. As of April 4, 2001, 2,228 compliance checks had been submitted for reimbursement. Of those, 1,751 retailers were compliant and 477 retailers were non-compliant. This is non-compliance of 21.41 percent.
"While the long-term economic advantage to reducing smoking is indisputable, this benefit pales in comparison to the savings in needless human suffering," said Miller. "If we take this opportunity to cut smoking in half, we can reduce the problem and address this emergency by saving the lives of 200,000 Americans and 2,500 Iowans each year. The benefits would be priceless," said Miller.
Activities In Woodbury
Local law enforcement officials have been very active. The Sioux City police and Woodbury County Sheriff's office have been conducting compliance checks around the county.
Miller also praised the youth involved in the program. "Youth have been involved in every aspect of the program," he said. "Their involvement is crucial to our success."
Miller presented a similar report to officials and advocates in Cedar Rapids on April 9, 2001.
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