Burning Illinois’ tobacco hotline is a no-brainer

Burning Illinois’ tobacco hotline is a no-brainer

The Tobacco Quitline’s admirable work is already being carried out at no cost to taxpayers.

Smoking is bad. That fact is widely known among Americans after decades of research, public advocacy campaigns and lawsuits against tobacco companies. Knowing that, spending millions in Illinois tax dollars to further this message is something Illinoisans simply cannot afford.

In his latest round of spending reforms, Gov. Bruce Rauner announced on June 12 that funding for Illinois’ Tobacco Quitline will be suspended, effective July 1. The program, a hotline for smokers operated by the Illinois Department of Public Health, was funded through a $3.1 million grant from the state.

Around 18 percent of Illinois adults smoke, and helping people quit is an admirable and important goal. In fact, it’s a goal the American Cancer Society is already helping to achieve – without Illinois taxpayers footing the bill.

The “Quit for Life” program is a free service that offers support resources to smokers who are interested in quitting. The program includes resources such as phone counseling with a “quit coach,” online education, web-based planning tools and even text-message plans to help people quit smoking.

With such a robust program being run through one of the leading cancer-prevention and awareness organizations in the country, Illinois taxpayers do not need to be paying for a separate program to accomplish the same goal.

Illinois’ pension debt and growing backlog of bills have caused a budget crisis that threatens to bankrupt the state. Reforming the way Illinois spends money and funding core government services first are the only ways the state can be put on a sustainable path forward.

Illinois taxpayers can no longer afford to pay for a program that has an admirable goal but already exists.

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