notobacco

Don’t Let The State Abolish ITPC

In State News on January 15, 2010 at 2:06 pm

From Tim Filler:

Abolishing ITPC would be pennywise and poundfoolish, and Hoosiers would suffer as a result

Senate Bill 298, an omnibus bill that contains a number or items relating to modifying administrative practices of a few various state programs, presently contains a provision that would abolish the Indiana Tobacco Prevention Agency, eliminate the agency’s expert, independent Executive Board and grab all the assets and function of the program and move them to another agency.

These provisions in SB 298 would severely disrupt and cause short and long-term negative impact to the state’s efforts to reduce the toll of tobacco by helping people quit smoking and preventing young people from starting to smoke.

WHAT THE LEGISLATION DOES:

The nonpartisan bill-drafting entity—Legislative Services Agency—describes the effect of the provisions of SB 298 that relate to ITPC as follows:

  • abolishes the Indiana Tobacco Use Prevention and Cessation Executive Board (Executive Board) on July 1, 2010, and transfers all assets, obligations, powers, duties, and appropriations of the Executive Board to the State Department of Health;
  • repeals statutes governing the Executive Board.

The ITPC Executive Board is an independent group of experts in the field.  The board provides invaluable expertise and oversight of the state’s tobacco prevention program.

An independent, expert ITPC Executive Board helps keep politics out of tobacco control.  There is much research in the body of literature on tobacco industry attacks on state tobacco prevention programs that detail very clearly the tobacco industy-allied comprehensive attacks on state tobacco control programs that—like Indiana Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Agency—utilize the components and program elements the research shows has the most potential for effectiveness.  Community-based tobacco prevention programs systematically are attacked by tobacco industry allies in an attempt to dismantle them or at least make them less effective.

Neither the elimination of the ITPC Executive Board nor the other provisions of SB298 result in cost savings to Indiana.  First of all, the ITPC Executive Board is a volunteer board whose members receive no pay for service on the board.  The administrative costs outlined in the fiscal note for SB298 are the administrative costs associated with running and implementing the Indiana Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Agency.  The fiscal note attached says that the duties and responsibilities that presently ITPC staff perform will be given to staff at the Indiana State Department of Health.

The way the fiscal note suggests costs would be reduced is to eliminate people doing the work.  There are not people at ISDH sitting with nothing to do at present, so—if they were to try to cut costs, it would be by making tobacco prevention someone’s second job.  This would be a major policy blunder to try to cut costs by eliminating people doing tobacco prevention because tobacco prevention programs have a a proven RETURN ON INVESTMENT that pays Indiana back in health impact and also cost savings.

The change to the current statute that SB 298 would effectuate has serious critical policy implications that would set back tobacco prevention efforts in Indiana.

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