1997 Conference Explores Use of Tobacco Taxes to Fund Child Heath Care

Project to Explore Collaboration Between Advocates for Tobacco Control and Children's Health

Brandeis University, Florence Heller Graduate School for Advanced Studies in Social Welfare held a three-day conference October 4–6, 1997, at Brandeis focused on the use of tobacco excise taxes to fund expansions in health care access for children and other groups. It also provided technical assistance to emerging coalitions of tobacco control, health care access and health advocacy groups on using this approach.

Key Results

  • One hundred people from eight states (Connecticut, Indiana, Illinois, Maine, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia) attended the conference.
  • The Brandeis investigator conducted research and analysis on the experiences of four states (Arizona, California, Massachusetts, and Oregon) that have pioneered the use of tobacco excise taxes to fund expansions in health care access for children and other groups is approach.
  • Six months following the conference, the investigator surveyed all conference participants to gauge their interest in receiving technical assistance in the area of collaboration between advocates for children's health and those for tobacco control; and to track their progress in instituting tobacco control programs that generate tax revenues to fund expanded access to health care.

Key Findings

  • New coalitions between health access and tobacco control advocates had formed in four of the states (Maine, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania), while previously existing coalitions expanded and/or launched new initiatives in three other states (Indiana, West Virginia and Connecticut).
  • Maine and New Jersey increased tobacco taxes considerably, but the new revenues were not earmarked for expansion of access to health care.
  • Legislatures in four states (Connecticut, Indiana, Illinois and New York) considered, but did not pass, measures to increase tobacco taxes and direct the new revenues to health access expansion.
  • The settlement reached during this time between tobacco companies and state attorneys general, and the substantial expansion of federal funding of children's health care through SCHIP, represented valuable gains for both tobacco control and children's health advocates.

Dissemination

More than 300 copies of a report, Funding Children's Health Through State Tobacco Taxes: Building Winning Coalitions with New and Unexpected Allies, which incorporated the earlier review of efforts in four states and the postconference survey findings, were distributed to conference participants and others involved in advocacy efforts related to tobacco control and children's access to health care.

Funding

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) supported the conference and technical assistance with a $145,656 grant.

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