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Big Tobacco “Lights Up” Battle Over Healthy Kids Initiative



September 7, 2007

Portland, OR – "Big Tobacco" is lighting a match when it comes to the "Healthy Kids Initiative." The tobacco industry has funded a series of new advertisements about Measure 50, which would raise tobacco taxes to fund healthcare for Oregon kids. The ads claim HMOs and insurers are funding the push for Measure 50, and that the majority of the money won't be used for healthcare.

Supporters say the ads are not only misleading, they're completely deceptive. John Valley, with the American Heart Association in Oregon, says the funds not would only go to Healthy Kids, but also other healthcare and tobacco prevention plans.

"When you have a constitutional amendment that says all of these funds have to go to healthcare, it's in the language, it's going to be in the Constitution -- that's where the money is going to go."

The Healthy Kids Initiative, signed by the Governor this spring, would provide healthcare to more than 100,000 uninsured Oregon kids. Measure 50 would provide the funding. Valley says the Initiative has broad-based support, including the Oregon Medical Association, Oregon Business Association, and the Oregon PTA.

"It's about covering children who don't have health insurance. It's about reducing the amount of smokers we have in this state. It's about improving the overall public health of Oregon."

Dondrea Warner/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - OR