Radio Ads Demand Tobacco Settlement Dollars be Spent on Tobacco Prevention


February 22, 2013 – A statewide media campaign, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, is urging Oregon lawmakers to dedicate tobacco settlement money toward tobacco prevention initiatives. Identifying $120 million in available funds from the historic 1998 tobacco settlement between 46 states attorneys’ general and big tobacco companies, the advertisements call on legislators to dedicate tobacco money to tobacco prevention.

“This year, Oregon’s leaders have a second chance to honor their promise, using the tobacco settlement money to prevent kids from smoking, help adults quit, and improve the health of our state,” says a voice in the radio ad.

Recognizing that not one penny of the $1 billion Oregon has received in tobacco settlement payments has been spent on tobacco prevention, a coalition of leading tobacco control and public health organizations has come together to advocate on behalf of investing 10% of the settlement funds on tobacco prevention.  

“For the past 10 years, Oregon has locked up the settlement dollars to pay for debt service and other state obligations,” said Stephanie Tama-Sweet, Government Relations Director for the American Heart Association. “We can’t make up for that lost time, but we can follow through with our commitment to the original purpose of the settlement – compensating Oregon for taxpayer money spent on patients and family members with tobacco-related diseases and reducing tobacco use, especially by Oregon’s children.”

The Legislature’s Ways and Means Committee Co-Chairs are scheduled to release a budget that will make spending recommendations for the 2013-15 biennium on March 1.

“Tobacco remains the number one cause of preventable death in Oregon, accounting for nearly 7,000 deaths and costing the State close to $2.4 billion a year, ” said Jason Parks of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. “Investing in tobacco prevention is a proven solution to not only saving the State of Oregon millions, sometimes billions, in medical costs but more importantly to saving lives.”

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