More cash sought to fight smokingCritics rip state's use of $285 million tobacco
Published April 19,
Anti-smoking advocates, local
officials and health-care providers criticized the state
Tuesday for spending only a fraction of the $285 million in
tobacco lawsuit settlement funds it receives each year on
smoking prevention and cessation programs.
on the legislature to increase state spending on
anti-cigarette efforts and urged more local governments to
adopt stricter bans on public smoking and higher licensing
fees for retailers who sell tobacco.
Craig Johnson, the
mayor of Elk Grove Village, which adopted a far-reaching
anti-smoking measure last week, said Illinois leaders were
negligent for using the tobacco settlement money for programs
other than smoking prevention.
"We think that's
atrocious," Johnson said at a community health forum organized
by Alexian Brothers Hospital Network. "They're using the money
to balance the budget and they're not earmarking it for what
it was meant for, which is ridding society of this
Also addressing the forum was anti-smoking
activist Patrick Reynolds, grandson of the founder of R.J.
Reynolds Tobacco Co.
Reynolds started the Foundation
for a Smokefree America and frequently delivers his message to
groups across the country.
He cited a recently released
report by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids that showed
Illinois ranked 34th among states in spending on smoking
Illinois spends only 17 percent of
the annual expenditure recommended by the U.S. Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention, said the report from the
Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group.
State Rep. Sara
Feigenholtz (D-Chicago) has urged the state to allocate more
of the money for smoking-cessation and health
"I am never satisfied with the amount of
dollars we put into prevention," Feigenholtz said from
Springfield. "Unfortunately, when dollars are scarce, we have
to make some very difficult decisions."
restricting smoking have been enacted in more than 2,000
municipalities across the country, Reynolds said, and 400
communities require 100 percent smoke-free
In addition, 14 states have laws requiring
nearly 100 percent smoke-free protection.
we're reaching a tipping point nationally with 100 percent
smoking bans," Reynolds said. "But Illinois is behind. There
is a need for Illinois to get up to speed on
Illinois currently receives about $285 million a
year as part of the landmark 1998 settlement with the big
tobacco companies, according to the Illinois Department of
But for each of the last three years,
Illinois has earmarked only about $11 million of those funds
for anti-smoking efforts, said Janet Williams, spokeswoman for
the Illinois Coalition Against Tobacco. The coalition wasn't
part of Tuesday's forum.
In recent years, tobacco
settlement money has paid for a variety of non-smoking
programs, from prescription drug benefits for senior citizens
to tax rebates.
Other states also use tobacco money to
plug budget deficits and pay Medicaid
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