Gov. Lamont’s budget cuts would cut Tobacco Health and Trust Fund budget in half  

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont presents his two-year budget proposal to the General Assembly at the Connecticut state Capitol in Hartford, Conn., on Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2023. Photo by Arron Flaum/AP Photo.

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont gave his annual state budget address last Wednesday, proposing cuts to select areas of the two-year 2024-2025 budget. One of those areas subject to budget cuts is programs for cancer prevention and control, according to a recent press release from the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network, a non-profit organization that works with policymakers and advocates for cancer research funding.  

The organization claims that Lamont’s proposed budget would cut their life-saving tobacco control programs’ current funding amount in half.  

“Earlier this week, Governor Lamont gave his annual state budget address which proposed to slash funding to many life-saving cancer prevention and control programs, including a 50% cut over the next two years to the state’s Tobacco Health and Trust Fund (CTHTF),” the release stated.  

The state will hold a public hearing to address the cuts on Tuesday, Feb. 28.  

According to Natalie Cullen Shurtleff, the organization’s senior grassroots manager for Connecticut and Rhode Island, the state has provided their programs with little-to-no funding in the past, with the exception of last year.  

“The state of Connecticut has a long history of not funding [our] programs,” Shurtleff wrote in an email. “For several years, they hadn’t funded anything. Then, last year, we had a big effort with lawmakers and finally secured $12 million in funding toward tobacco prevention and cessation.”  

Shurtleff said that with lesser funds going to the programs, fewer individuals who depend on those programs will be able to actually access them.  

“Right as we got this funding last year, the government is now proposing to cut that funding in half,” Shurtleff added. “We know that this means there is going to be even less money to spend on these programs and potentially that could mean that more individuals won’t have access to those programs.”  

ACS CAN’s Connecticut director of government relations Bryte Johnson said the organization’s tobacco prevention and cessation programs are essential to stop tobacco use and educate people of the negative consequences from using tobacco products.  

“Fact-based, statewide tobacco prevention and cessation programs equip people with the tools to stop using tobacco, educate on the negative health outcomes associated with tobacco products and help dismantle the systemic disparities perpetuated by the tobacco industry,” Johnson said. “Why would anyone think cutting funding for such a program would be a good idea?”  

According to the release, an estimated 23,500 Connecticut residents are likely to become diagnosed with cancer next year, over 6000 of which could lose their lives as a result.  

 “Lawmakers can play a key role in bringing these numbers down by supporting fact-based policies proven to reduce cancer related death and disease.” states the release  

Shurtleff says that though there are other sources for funding the programs, such as those from other non-profits groups and the federal government, ACS’s CAN expects a large portion of the funding to be from the state government is needed for their programs to succeed and run as normal in the next two years.  

“I think that there’s a role the government plays in funding these programs, that really just can’t be filled elsewhere,” she said. “We’re just kind of left in a void if we don’t have state funding for tobacco prevention and cessation. There’s funding from non-profit groups, and there’s funding from the federal government, but it just doesn’t fully address the problem. And that’s why we need state funding for the efforts.”  

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