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Current e-cigarette use erases decades of progress

Hawaii’s keiki are facing a crisis. One in three high schoolers and one in five middle schoolers currently uses e-cigarettes, erasing decades of progress in reducing tobacco use.

Hawaii’s successful tobacco prevention and cessation program is in jeopardy as lawmakers want to raid the funding. I know budgets are tight, but cutting funding for a program that’s proven to reduce tobacco use at a time when we’re focused on protecting respiratory health is the wrong move. Eliminating funding for Hawaii’s Tobacco Prevention and Control Trust Fund will cost the state lives and money down the road.

Youth cigarette smoking has decreased dramatically since this program’s inception. In 1999, nearly 28 percent of Hawaii’s high schoolers smoked cigarettes compared to 5.3 percent in 2019. Additionally, it’s saved Hawaii more than $1 billion in health care costs through significant reductions in smoking among youth, adults and pregnant women.

If we stop now, this progress will be lost.

Our work is not done and amid this pandemic, efforts to reduce tobacco-related disease may be more important than ever. As an American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network volunteer, I’m urging lawmakers to protect Hawaii’s tobacco prevention and control funding.

Kellen King

Waikapu

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