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Iowa Behind in Smoking Prevention Dollars

February 11, 2008

Des Moines, IA – This session, the Iowa Legislature is moving quickly on a plan that would ban smoking in public places, a move the American Cancer Society estimates could save the lives of at least 3,000 nonsmokers in Iowa by reducing their exposure to secondhand smoke.

However, lawmakers haven't made much progress on tobacco prevention funding, despite last year's dollar-a-pack tax hike. Gretchen Tegeler of the American Cancer Society says Iowa's tobacco prevention funding is roughly half what the federal Centers for Disease Control recommend for a state the size of Iowa.

"There was an increase for cessation assistance, but it was minuscule in proportion to the dollars raised from the tax."

Tegeler says the increase in the cigarette tax was a big hurdle last year; she believes this year's challenge is equally important.

"It is very exciting to see this year moving forward from the smoking tax increase, to really getting at worker protection from secondhand smoke."

Tegeler explains that free tobacco prevention and cessation programs in Iowa have begun to reduce youth smoking rates. For those wanting to quit smoking, Tegeler recommends the Quit Hotline at 1-800-Quit Now. More information is also available online at www.cancer.org.

Dick Layman/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - IA