Last Updated: September 2020
Author: Tobacco Control Program, Vermont Department of Health
Annual investment in comprehensive tobacco control is instrumental for reducing the deaths and disease burden caused by tobacco: 1,000 smoking attributable deaths in Vermont each year. A well-funded tobacco control program is cited in the 2014 Best Practices for Comprehensive Tobacco Control Programs as a strategy to reduce the state's smoking prevalence. This report projects that 10,100 Vermont youth will die from smoking as adults (using 2012 current rates of use); hence the need for sufficient funding to implement a comprehensive tobacco control and prevention program in Vermont. State Tobacco Control Programs have documented return on investments of between 2:1 (cardiovascular hospital admissions among Medicaid population in Massachusetts over a three-year period) and 50:1 (health care costs in California over a 10-year period).
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published in the 2014 Guide both minimum and recommended funding levels for each of the fifty states it funds to reduce and prevent tobacco use and burden. For Vermont, the minimum level for a comprehensive program is $6.1 million while the recommended amount is $8.4 million. Vermont is funded at 62% of recommended level. Through the efforts of the Vermont Legislature, the state's leadership, the former Vermont Tobacco Evaluation and Review Board and the Coalition for a Tobacco-free Vermont, Vermont's program has been awarded funds from several sources including the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement and Global Commitment which helps achieve a funding level and impact that is higher than if solely reliant on federal funds.
The Vermont Tobacco Control Program’s funding has remained steady over the past several years at approximately $3.6 million and increased in July of 2020 to $3.8 million through a new CDC award for 2020-2025. In 2018 the state legislature temporarily boosted the Tobacco Control Program's capacity to address the emerging issue of e-cigarettes use and flavors by allocating $1 million of the 2004-2012 MSA settlement fund to the program. These funds have been instrumental in starting a youth campaign, Unhyped, to increase perception of harm of e-cigarettes, enhance services to adults seeking to quit smoking, and support online youth enforcement checks performed by the Department of Liquor and Lottery.
The state has continued its investment in tobacco control and prevention at a maintenance level, which the Department's tobacco program uses to tackle the vaping epidemic among youth, serve thousands of Vermonters with free cessation information and assistance, equip partners and 14 community grantees to reach vulnerable populations with tobacco education and resources, and strive for reducing exposure to dangerous secondhand smoke. However, the Tobacco Program is not as impactful as it could be if it were funded at the recommended minimum level by the CDC.