Letters and Opinion

Tobacco programs will be protected

February 19, 2010

With respect to your editorial in the Feb. 1 issue supporting the Tobacco Prevention and Cessation agency, your intent is pure and laudable, but I fear you miss the point. The agency manages $10 million, and their budget for administration in Indianapolis is $1.1 million. The Department of Health performs many of the same functions in parallel with other monies they receive. Close study shows significant duplication of function.

Most states operate this program through the department of health. Indiana, in its inception, chose to have a stand-alone agency. Now that the program is a success, we believe this consolidation will bring even a better performance and the ability to spend more dollars directly on the programs.

The budget bill provided that at least 75 percent of all program dollars must still go to the local programs which have produced the greatest effectiveness. Dr. [Judith] Monroe, whom IBJ has lauded for her work, is committed to continuance of the programs for cessation and shared with the General Assembly the fact that she believes this will be a better program for the change. A number of safeguards are in the statute to insure the proper use of the funds.

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Luke Kenley
State senator, R-Noblesville

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