Tobacco and public health


Tobacco use continues to take a toll on the health of Michigan residents and on the economy of our state.

Tobacco use is the number one cause of preventable death, and costs our state billions in healthcare and Medicaid costs each year.

However, the news is not all bad. Over the past decade the youth smoking rate declined from 34 percent in 1999 to 14 percent in 2011, and the rate of smoking during the last three months of pregnancy among women ever on Medicaid declined from 34.5 percent in 1996 to 26.7 percent in 2008. These reductions in tobacco use have saved our state billions in reduced healthcare costs and increased productivity.

Much of this success is directly attributable to tobacco prevention programming implemented by the Michigan Tobacco Program and local communities funded by this program. To ensure that as a state we continue to make strides in impacting tobacco use rates, and to reap the rewards in terms of lives and dollars saved, we need to adequately fund the state tobacco program.

Legislators should consider increasing the funding level of the Michigan Tobacco Program from the current level of $1.8 million annually to a level closer to that recommended by the Centers for Disease Control of $121 million annually. Increasing funding for the tobacco program would help the state and local communities to better address tobacco use and more fully impact the public’s health.

Shanna Hammond