|Tobacco Addiction: Connecticut's government is as venal as the tobacco companies|
Jump to full article: Hartford (CT) Courant, 2012-04-30
When it comes to tobacco addiction, Connecticut's state government has been nearly as exploitative and venal as the tobacco companies it went after more than a dozen years ago.
The state led the nation in suing Big Tobacco, with then-Attorney General Richard Blumenthal demanding compensation for the high cost of Medicaid patients who are prone to smoke. The idea was that tobacco companies would give states money to care for the ill — and prevent others from becoming addicted.
The argument won the day. Connecticut and 45 other states won billions of dollars in 1998 as part of the historic tobacco settlement. But hypocrisy soon followed.
This income stream of $100 million-plus annually will end in 11 more years. It has become little more than a slush fund to pay for practically everything but quitting smoking. . . .
Between 2000 and 2009, according to an excellent Yankee Institute study (bit.ly/tobaccoct), of the $1.3 billion sent to Connecticut from the settlement, only $134 million went to the Tobacco and Health Trust Fund. But it gets even worse: The state government raided that "trust fund" of all but $9.2 million for other goals.
Mr. Blumenthal, now U.S. senator, says, "We should be embarrassed and ashamed that one of the nation's leading states in public health is failing to use the money to help people quit. "
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