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NAQC Newsroom: Tobacco Control

CDC Responds to CNN Story

Friday, March 26, 2010  
Below are the CDC’s talking points regarding a story that appeared on CNN yesterday related to the Communities Putting Prevention to Work initiative. The transcript from the CNN story is pasted below CDC’s talking points.

CDC Talking Points

Assertions that CDC is funding lobbying efforts through the Communities Putting Prevention to Work initiative are totally false, and CDC will take all actions possible under law, including terminating the grant and penalizing all involved, if the agency finds any grantee is using Recovery Act funds for lobbying.

Smoking and obesity are two of the leading killers of Americans. Plus, they account for nearly $250 billion in direct medical costs each year. The Recovery Act’s prevention and wellness program, led by CDC, is funding programs designed by state and local governments to combat these critical public health challenges and find solutions that will save lives and make Americans healthier.

State and local public health offices, working with community coalitions and other partners, applied for funds to support their programs to reduce smoking and obesity. This grant program provides states and localities with resources to create healthy choices for residents, such as increasing availability of healthy foods and beverages, improving access to safe places for physical activity, discouraging tobacco use, and encouraging smoke-free environments. Last week, forty-four communities received grants and will begin their programs soon.

Federal law prohibits the use of funds to lobby the government, and all CDC grantees are educated on all federal laws relating to funding awards including applicable anti-lobbying provisions. In addition, grantees in this program are scheduled for intensive trainings with CDC from April through June to reinforce their instruction.

CNN Transcript

Tony: Billions of dollars going to lobby to raise prices on some things the government doesn’t even want you even consuming. Let’s go to Josh Levs now.

Josh: I didn’t see this coming. They’re using it for lobbying. You know, we’ve found some interesting things after spending weeks and weeks, a couple months now piecing through the stimulus. I didn’t think I could still be surprised. This is pretty striking. The CDC distributed millions of dollars to support efforts around the country, nutrition, physical activity and tobacco control. And some of it is going to lobbying efforts on the state level. Here’s an example, Delaware. Got a million bucks there to its called educate leaders and decision makers about the benefits of increasing the price on other tobacco products such as cigars and smokeless tobacco to equal the price on cigarettes, short version there to help lobby to help push proposals for them to do that.

Oregon now, they got $3 million dollars and that includes money for a counter advertising campaign targeted to vulnerable Oregonians, and also funds to support a policy proposal to increase tobacco price, which means kind of pushing for taxes, so the price for tobacco and other products will ultimately be higher. That’s just a couple examples there, Tony. Also in New York, $284,000 to something similar, they're saying educating leaders to promote a ban there on trans fat. And one more note on this, Wisconsin is an interesting example because they're the health department discussed this idea of trying to use stimulus money to lobby for a state-wide ban on tobacco products that had flavors. They decided they didn't think it was appropriate to use stimulus money in that particular way.

And one more thing here. To be fair, there's also programs that aren't about this kind of lobbying. One from Colorado, $1.2 million there, programs including increasing awareness of problems from too much sodium. And also, projects to reduce the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages. Basically, they’re spending pony for projects to get you to drink less soda, trying to get healthier. We have spoken with health officials repeatedly about the stimulus. They say no money is being wasted. This money is going to health projects they believe will work and improve the health of Americans. That peer review system. Tony, that's where they stand on all this.

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