Congress must fully fund CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health

November 2022

November 17, 2022

The Honorable Patty Murray
Chair
Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services Education and Related Agencies
Committee on Appropriations
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Rosa DeLauro
Chair
Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services Education and Related Agencies
Committee on Appropriations
U.S. House of Representatives Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Roy Blunt
Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services Education and Related Agencies
Committee on Appropriations
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Tom Cole
Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services Education and Related Agencies
Committee on Appropriations
U.S. House of Representatives Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chair Murray, Chair DeLauro, Ranking Member Blunt, and Ranking Member Cole:

As you negotiate final appropriations bills for fiscal year 2023, we urge you to fund the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Office on Smoking and Health (OSH) at $261.5 million, which is the amount in the Chairman’s mark released by the Senate Appropriations Committee in July. This $20 million increase would help OSH respond to high rates of e-cigarette use among youth and the devastating toll that tobacco1 continues to take on our nation’s health.

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States, responsible for more than 480,000 deaths and approximately $241 billion in health care costs each year. Nearly one in three heart disease deaths and cancer deaths and nearly eight in 10 chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) deaths are caused by tobacco use. The tobacco use that causes this harm almost always begins during adolescence. Most adults who smoke want to quit, but overcoming an addiction to nicotine is difficult and often requires multiple quit attempts.

OSH provides grants to states and territories to support tobacco prevention and cessation programs, runs a highly successful national media campaign called Tips from Former Smokers (Tips), conducts important research on tobacco use, and develops best practices for reducing it.

Youth continue to use e-cigarettes at alarming levels. CDC and the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) most recent National Youth Tobacco Survey showed that more than 2.5 million middle and high school students reported using e-cigarettes in the first half of this year. Alarmingly, 46 percent of high school users reported use on 20 days or more a month, including 30.1 percent who reported daily use, a sign that youth are addicted. According to the Surgeon General, e-cigarettes expose users to nicotine and other potentially harmful substances and are not safe for youth and young adults. A more robust public health response is needed to prevent e-cigarettes from placing a new generation at risk for nicotine addiction and tobacco use.

While smoking rates overall have declined, over 31 million people in the U.S. continue to smoke cigarettes. Smoking is higher among certain groups and in particular regions of the country, including people with lower incomes and lower levels of education, Native Americans, people with behavioral health conditions, and the LGBTQ community. Black Americans die from smoking-caused diseases at far higher rates than other racial or ethnic groups despite starting to smoke at a later age, smoking fewer cigarettes per day, and being more likely to make a quit attempt. Communities that are disproportionately impacted by tobacco are often the targets of tobacco industry marketing, have fewer resources for tobacco cessation treatments, and experience financial and other stressors that can lead to continued tobacco use. Smoking is a major cause of health disparities and targeted action is needed to reduce tobacco use where it remains high and eliminate disparities in tobacco-caused diseases.

OSH plays a vital role in reducing tobacco use. It provides grants to states and territories to support tobacco prevention and cessation programs, runs a highly successful national media campaign called Tips from Former Smokers (Tips), conducts important research on tobacco use, and develops best practices for reducing it. Additional resources will allow OSH to address the threat to public health posed by high rates of youth e-cigarette use while continuing to prevent and reduce all tobacco use. With additional resources:

  • CDC could better advance health equity by strengthening efforts to assist communities who are disproportionately harmed by tobacco products and targeted by the tobacco industry, including by designing and supporting state efforts to implement prevention and cessation programs that are tailored to address their specific needs.
  • CDC could enhance efforts to end youth and young adult tobacco use, including e-cigarette use, by providing more resources to state and local health departments; educating youth, parents, health professionals and others about tobacco products and the harms associated with their use; and identifying additional evidence-based strategies to prevent youth and young adults from initiating tobacco use.
  • CDC could expand a program that we know works to reduce tobacco use: the Tips media campaign. Tips helped approximately one million people who smoke quit for good from 2012 through 2018. As a result, it has prevented an estimated 129,100 smoking-related deaths and saved an estimated $7.3 billion in health care costs.

We appreciate that both the Senate and House FY 2023 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations bills recognize the significant toll that tobacco takes on our nation’s health and include increased funding for OSH. As you finalize appropriations legislation for fiscal year 2023, we urge you to fund OSH at the Senate’s proposed funding level of $261.5 million.

Sincerely,

Academy of General Dentistry
Action on Smoking and Health
African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council
Allergy & Asthma Network
American Academy of Nursing
American Academy of Pediatrics
American Association for Cancer Research
American Association for Dental, Oral, and Craniofacial Research
American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network
American College Health Association
American College of Cardiology
American College of Chest Physicians
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
American College of Physicians
American College of Preventive Medicine
American Dental Education Association
American Heart Association
American Lung Association
American Medical Association
American School Health Association
AmericanSociety of Addiction Medicine
American Thoracic Society
Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights
Association for Clinical Oncology
Association for the Treatment of Tobacco Use & Dependence (ATTUD)
Association of Black Cardiologists
Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs
Association of State and Territorial Health Officials
Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America
Big Cities Health Coalition
Black Women’s Health Imperative
Breathe Southern California
California Black Health Network
Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
CATCH Global Foundation
Catholic Health Association of the United States
Center for Black Equity
COPD Foundation
Emphysema Foundation of America
First Focus Campaign for Children
For Future Lungs
League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC)
March of Dimes
National Alliance to Advance Adolescent Health
National Association of County and City HealthOfficials
National Association of Hispanic Nurses
National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners
National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP)
National Association of Social Workers
National Black Church Initiative
National Black Nurses Association
National Council of Asian Pacific Islander Physicians
National Education Association
National Hispanic Medical Association
National LGBT Cancer Network
National Medical Association
National Network of Public Health Institutes
National Tongan American Society, The
Oncology Nursing Society
Parents Against Vaping e-cigarettes (PAVe)
Prevent Cancer Foundation
Preventing Tobacco Addiction
Foundation/Tobacco 21
Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association
Respiratory Health Association
Save A Girl Save A World
Society for Cardiovascular Angiography & Interventions
Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco
Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD)
The Society of State Leaders of Health and Physical Education
Trust for America’s Health
Vaping Prevention Resource