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Letter to M. Jodi Rell, Governor of Connecticut, Re: State's Use of Tobacco Settlement

Conn. Delegation Questions State's Use of Tobacco Settlement

The entire Connecticut Delegation wrote to Governor M. Jodi Rell asking about the state's use of funds it receives annually from the Master Settlement Agreement reached with four major tobacco companies in 1998. According to a report released by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids Connecticut Kids, Connecticut is ranked last amongst the fifty states and the District of Columbia in terms of settlement money put towards smoking and tobacco cessation efforts. The delegation is requesting details on the state's past use of funds (1998 - 2007), in addition to future use of its share of settlement funds.

"It is simply unacceptable that Connecticut has not yet allocated the money from the tobacco settlement agreement to its intended use," said Senator Chris Dodd. "This year alone, 440,000 Americans will die from tobacco related illnesses and almost just as many children will become new smokers. I urge Governor Rell to examine our state's use of its tobacco settlement funds so we can help improve the heath and quality of life of the people of Connecticut."

"Connecticut joined State AGs from all over the U.S. to fight to protect the public's health from the dangers posed by tobacco. The settlement money won in that fight should be used to reduce and prevent tobacco use. The report that Connecticut is ranked 51st in using tobacco settlement funds for prevention and smoking cessation is worrisome and any information the state can provide on how the funds are being spent will help strengthen efforts to make Connecticut a healthier state." - Senator Joe Lieberman.

"We are missing an opportunity to improve the health and well-being of Connecticut's residents by failing to use money from the tobacco settlement towards smoking and tobacco prevention and cessation," said Congresswoman Rosa L. DeLauro (Conn. -3). "The costs of smoking related illnesses are over $1.6 billion in Connecticut today. By not investing in these programs today, the state is putting itself in the position of facing even higher costs and poorer health for its citizens over the long-term."

"It is clear we need to do more to prohibit underage smoking. While the State is taking an important step to prevent underage smoking with a high per-pack cigarette tax, education and public outreach should assist in this effort and should be funded by fines imposed on the tobacco industry." - Congressman Chris Shays (Conn. - 4)

''It is imperative that the State of Connecticut report how these anti-smoking campaign funds have been spent. I am concerned that so little money has been spent on smoking cessation programs considering the volume of children in Connecticut who are smoking and the related health care costs overall." - Congressman Joe Courtney (Conn. - 2)

"We've come a long way in reducing smoking in Connecticut, but everyday, the tobacco industry gets new customers, and most of them are kids. The work we started when I was in the state legislature isn't done, and we should be using the resources at our disposal to put an end to this unhealthy habit." - Congressman Chris Murphy (Conn. - 5)

Below is the text of the letter:

January 7, 2008

Governor M. Jodi Rell
444 North Capitol Street NW
Suite 317
Washington, D.C. 20001

Dear Governor Rell:

We are writing to inquire about funding the state of Connecticut receives annually from the Master Settlement Agreement reached with four major tobacco companies in 1998. We are troubled to find in a report released by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids in December that Connecticut ranks last amongst the states in the amount of settlement money it puts toward smoking and tobacco cessation efforts. We would like to request a detailing of the activities Connecticut has spent its share of the settlement money on from 1998 through 2007 and how it plans to spend future funds derived from the settlement.

As you know, tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, and according to the CDC, over 440,000 deaths and more than $96 billion in medical expenses are caused by cigarette smoking per year. In Connecticut alone, smoking causes $1.63 billion in health care costs annually. Approximately 416,000 children become new, regular smokers each year, 5,400 of those in Connecticut. The 1998 settlement with Phillip Morris, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation, and Lorillard Tobacco Company was the largest civil settlement in United States history, and rightly committed these companies to paying states for the astronomical health care costs they incurred due to tobacco and smoking.

The Master Settlement did not dictate how states could spend this money, but a large portion of the annual settlement money should clearly be spent on health care costs and smoking cessation and treatment programs. The state of Connecticut has received nearly $1 billion thus far from the settlement, but has spent less than one percent of that money on smoking prevention, according to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. We understand that Connecticut has some recent and planned expenditures for tobacco-related programs, but those amounts still fall short of the Centers for Disease Control's 2006 minimum spending target of $21.2 million per year.

We are concerned that the money Connecticut has been awarded in this settlement is not being utilized to its maximum capacity for the health of the state's residents. That is why we would like to request, for review, a detailed explanation on how Connecticut has spent the money it has received from the Master Settlement from 1998 through the present and comprehensive information on future plans for expenditures in this area. We believe it is critical to remedy this situation and invest these resources in tobacco-related costs.

Thank you for your attention to this matter and we look forward to hearing from you.




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