State Anti-Smoking Funds May Soon Be Cut

In 2006 voters in Ohio spoke loudly and clearly that they supported a smoking ban.

The smoking ban came into force in 2007. Since then, in accordance with the Ohio Department of Health , 6,711 citations have been issued, including warnings.

Now some worry state budget cuts may prevent efforts to efficaciously carry out that ban.

smoking cessation sign

smoking cessation sign

In Governor John Kasich’s suggested budget, by fiscal year 2013, anti-tobacco funding will be eliminated. That is unless the Ohio Department of Health comes up with another methods to pay for it.

During the past few years, the state has spent $1.16 million yearly from the Tobacco Settlement Fund to maintain local health departments to examine and carry out the state’s smoking ban.

In Governor Kasich’s suggested budget, come July 1, money won’t be given to health departments. In July 2012, unless other ways are found, all state anti-tobacco funds will be removed.

Dr. Rob Crane, M.D., who was co-establisher of Smokefree Columbus, said that this smoking ban is more popular than ever. Crane added that 75 percent of people maintain this law and it is striking that the governor does not.

Connie Wehrkamp is a spokesperson for Governor Kasich. Wehrkamp told that Ohio is confronted with an unexampled $8 billion budget hole. This means that state government must spend less money on programs. It is not a reflection on the advantages of these programs, but rather the reality of the budget shortage.

Jose Rodriguez, Columbus Public Health Spokesperson, told that there is no clarity about how this will affect health departments such as CPH because a majority of their financing for enforcement comes from fines that they tax.

Meanwhile, the problem as well is with several smaller health departments.

Shelly Kiser, Director of Advocacy for the American Lung Association of Ohio said that several smaller health departments are not able to put it into operation without some of the financing they receive from the state. Kiser underlined that some smaller health departments do not want to enforce it without the funding arriving from the state.

Now Jen House with the Ohio Department of Health are finding methods to keep financing alive.

The first variant is to work cooperatively with the attorney general to get some of the $1.5 million they are owed from businesses who have broken the smoking ban. Jen House says ODH has only got $551,000 since the ban became operative in 2007.

ODH says next fiscal year will start this July. Approximately a million dollars in state funding will go to the Tobacco Quit Line. None of it will go enforcement.

Unless the state founds financing elsewhere, there will be no state anti-tobacco funding starting July 2012.

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