Clients in the News
Clients in the News Archive: June 2011
June 29, 2011
By Lauren Hepler
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
Tobacco-prevention programs went 1 for 2 in a last-minute budget agreement.
Lawmakers will fully fund enforcement of the state ban on smoking in most public places, with $1 million for each of the next two years.
But the Ohio Department of Health received nothing to operate the state’s free quit-smoking line. It had asked for $2 million annually.”We’re still going to have a quit line after July 1,” said agency spokesman Robert Jennings. “We’ll be providing services for free to pregnant women and people getting Medicaid and Medicare.”
Otherwise, it will be up to private insurers to reimburse customers for using the quit line, which arranges for nicotine patches and five treatment sessions with a specialist.
The program serves 20,000 Ohioans a year and costs $215 per client.
Jennings said the state is seeking private and federal funding for the quit line.
Advocates are pleased that there’s money to enforce the smoking ban, but they say smoking-cessation programs are critical for the state.
“We know enforcement alone won’t make smoking rates go down,” said Shelly Kiser, director of advocacy for the American Lung Association of the Midland States.
Ohio’s smoking rate jumped to 22.5 percent for adults last year, up 2.2 percentage points from 2009, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It was the biggest increase since 1996.
An earlier budget proposal would have cut tobacco-prevention funds to $1 million in the 2012 fiscal year and eliminated all funding the following year, so yesterday’s agreement is an improvement for advocates.
“We were starting at zero for 2013,” said Marianne Farmer, policy director for the East Central Division of the American Cancer Society. “But it is still disappointing that important cessation programs aren’t receiving funding.”
Enforcement efforts for 2012 will be funded with $1 million remaining from a previous $10.1 billion state settlement with tobacco companies.
In 2013, the ban will be enforced with $500,000 originally marked for the quit line and $500,000 from the state’s general-revenue fund.
Increased funding comes after recent findings that regulators already lack muscle to enforce the ban.
A recent Dayton Daily News analysis found that, although violators of the ban statewide face $2.2 million in fines, $1.5 million has yet to be collected.
Ohio’s statewide ban, which was approved by voters, was enacted in May 2007.
Most enforcement of the ban is done by local health departments.