Council backs tobacco cessation efforts
March 1, 2013
By Maribeth Vaughn
GREENFIELD — Worried a proposed $4.3 million cut to Indiana’s tobacco cessation programs will affect the local community, the Greenfield City Council Wednesday passed a formal resolution asking the Indiana General Assembly to restore money in the state’s budget.
The Indiana House of Representatives earlier this week approved a preliminary budget that reduced funding for the Indiana Tobacco Prevention and Cessation agency from $9.3 million to $5 million.
The state budget still has several more steps to go through. A version of the two-year budget bill will be approved by the Senate, and then a committee will work out the differences between the two. Gov. Mike Pence will also have a say.
But Brandee Bastin, tobacco initiative coordinator for the Hancock County Tobacco-Free Coalition, said the thought of a drastic cut to the state’s programs to help people kick the habit is worrisome.
The same worry came in 2011, when lawmakers proposed an identical financial cut. Ultimately, the Legislature restored the full $9.3 million funding that year, and Bastin said she hopes the same thing will happen this year.
Wednesday’s resolution, she said, was encouraging.
“I think all showings of support, whether calls, emails, resolutions, personal stories, letters to the editor; they will all make a difference because the legislators need to see the real effect (of tobacco cessation programs),” she said.
Cuts in funding to tobacco prevention have been common in recent years. When the ITPC started in 2001, the state funded $32 million. In 2005 funding was cut to $12 million and shortly after that it was reduced to the current $9.3 million.
The city council’s resolution was an idea of Councilman Greg Carwein. Carwein attended last week’s luncheon of the county coalition, and afterward approached Bastin.
“He just told me he was blown away by (the presentation) and he would like … to put forth a resolution in support of our program because it has benefited so many folks in our community over the years,” Bastin said.
Council President John Patton said he asked for the resolution to be included in Wednesday’s meeting, even though it wasn’t included in the agenda. The council unanimously approved it.
Patton said he will ask Sen. Mike Crider, R-Greenfield, to share the council’s resolution with other lawmakers. While it’s hard to tell whether state legislators will take to heart the opinion of the Greenfield City Council, it may help.
“We’re just doing our small part,” Patton said.