ILLINOIS — Could the number of smokers in the state go down? A new report indicates fewer people would be lighting up if anti-smoking efforts were beefed up.
Currently the state is below average when it comes to funding prevention measures. The CDC says the number of people who smoke is decreasing, but a new study shows the number could decrease even further if there were more prevention efforts put in place.
“Offering counseling services, ability to get improved FDA-approved tobacco cessation, medication, public awareness campaign, all the above.”
Illinois spends more than $9 million on education and awareness about the harms of lighting up. The CDC says that’s just not enough.
“We receive $1.2 billion in the tobacco settlement fund, so it’s just a very tiny percentage going towards tobacco cessation and prevention and only 6.7% of what the CDC recommends.”
However, a few million means a lot to the state of Illinois which is going on two years without a state budget. The Tobacco Quitline was shut down temporarily because of a lack of funds. The American Cancer Society says it’s a frightening reality which could happen again.
“You always worry about it being on the chopping block, but we, as advocates, have been pretty adamant about how important the program is.”
The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids says nearly every state received a failing grade when it comes to financing anti-smoking campaigns.
Last year, smoking killed more than 18,000 people in Illinois, but many believe more lives could be saved with just a few more dollars.
“Spend a few million dollars, but ultimately saving and helping hundreds and thousands of people so, with this broad-based approach to prevention and cessation, you really can help supplement and complement other efforts.”
Illinois spends more than $5 billion in healthcare costs directly caused by smoking.
One idea advocates are fighting for is a tobacco tax increase. Studies show a cigarette tax increase can decrease the amount used.