SPRINGFIELD — Illinois compared favorably to other states in a report by a national advocacy group evaluating cancer reduction policies in all but one area — funding for its cessation program.
After a legislative session in which the General Assembly raised the minimum age to buy tobacco products, increased the usage tax on cigarettes and implemented a tax on e-cigarettes for the first time, an analysis by the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network found Illinois does not spend enough money helping those addicted to nicotine to quit.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that Illinois spend $136.7 million on a tobacco prevention and cessation program. According to the report, Illinois allocates $9.1 million to the initiative, 6.7 percent of the recommended level.
“There is plenty of work to be done in Illinois to really prevent cancer and ensure that our policies are matching our priorities,” Shana Crews, government relations director for the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network, said. “Every year, it’s interesting to see which states are really excelling and which states have room to grow. A lot of times in Illinois, people take for granted that we’re on the forefront of this, that and the other. The tobacco control funding is one area of improvement for sure.”
The solution, the advocacy group recommends, would be for the state to spend more money on its cessation program from a multi-state lawsuit it won against the tobacco industry in the late 1990s. Called the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement, companies agreed to pay several states annual sums to compensate for medical costs related to smoking.
Illinois is being paid more than $9.1 billion through 2025 as a result of the lawsuit, according to the Department of Public Health.
A spokesperson from the Public Health Department did not respond to questions about how Illinois spends the Master Settlement Agreement funds.