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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, December 21, 2018 - Volume 46 Issue 51
Gov. Inslee collects $552 million annually from tobacco taxes and fees, proposes spending less than 1% on prevention efforts
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Gov. Inslee collects $552 million annually from tobacco taxes and fees, proposes spending less than 1% on prevention efforts

SEATTLE (December 18, 2018) - In a stunning move last week, Gov. Inslee released a budget that provides no additional funding for tobacco prevention efforts.

'It is a fair assumption that some percentage of the revenue the state generates from nicotine addiction would go toward helping users quit smoking or preventing tobacco use in the first place,' explains Fred Swanson, Gay City's executive director. 'To feed the state's general fund with more than 99% of tobacco taxes and fees and ignore the epidemic of vaping among our youth is unconscionable.'

In the governor's recent $54.4 billion budget, the state is designating only $1.7 million annually toward the prevention of tobacco, e-cigarettes, and vaping, less than 3% of the $64 million recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). With more than $552 million in tax revenue received annually from tobacco taxes and fees, the state is spending less than 1% toward prevention efforts.

According to a recent FDA report, high school e-cigarette use is at an epidemic level, increasing 78% year over year. Those most likely to be affected include youth of color and LGBTQ youth, whose rates of smoking far outpace any other groups.

Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death in the country. Annual healthcare costs directly attributable to smoking in Washington top $2.8 billion.

A request for a meaningful investment in tobacco prevention and control was sent to Gov. Inslee in October by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the American Heart Association, the American Indian Health Commission for Washington State, the American Lung Association, the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, the Center for Multicultural Health, El Centro de la Raza, the Foundation for Healthy Generations, Gay City: Seattle's LGBTQ Center, Neighborhood House, and the Asian Pacific Islander Coalition Advocating Together for Healthy Communities.

It is now up to the state legislature to address this oversight in the 2019 budget. To contact your legislator, go to gaycity.org/contactyourlegislator.

For more information and facts, please visit https://www.gaycity.org/resources/youth-tobacco-prevention.

Gay City: Seattle's LGBTQ Center's mission is to promote wellness in LGBTQ communities by providing health services, connecting people to resources, fostering arts, and building community. Its staff and volunteers, our programs and services, and its drive and spirit reflect the resilience and power of Seattle's many LGBTQ communities. For more information, visit www.gaycity.org.

Courtesy of Gay City

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