Alaska tobacco prevention program touts major success, but sees quiet funding cuts
There's no question that the number of Alaskans smoking has dropped dramatically in recent years, but whether or not a program that plays a big role in trying to keep tobacco out of the hands of youth and adults will continue to get the funding it needs is a major question.
This spring, lawmakers cut $746,000 from the state's tobacco prevention program out of concerns that at the current rate of spending, funds for the $10.1-million program will dry up by fiscal year 2016. But advocates for the program, and its funding, are worried that bad information and a misunderstanding of how the program works may be causing hasty decision-making.
Anti-smoking advocates argue that drastic cuts are not what's needed to secure the program in perpetuity, one goal everyone can agree on. Instead, they say, it's time to either look at different ways to increase cash flow to the program or consider gradual steps down, noting that drastic impacts to funding could have devastating consequences.