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Harkin: New Anti-Smoking Data Proves Prevention Fund Works

1.6 Million Smokers Have Attempted to Quit Smoking; More Than 200,000 Americans Quit Smoking Successfully

WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today hailed an announcement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that the “Tips From a Former Smoker” (“Tips”) 2012 national ad campaign led an estimated 1.6 million smokers to attempt to quit smoking and helped more than 200,000 Americans quit smoking immediately. The “Tips” campaign was funded by the Prevention and Public Health Fund, which Harkin authored as Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee and of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies. The 2012 “Tips” campaign far exceeded the campaign’s original goals of 500,000 quit attempts and 50,000 successful quits, according to a CDC study published today in the Lancet medical journal.

“Tobacco use is one of the leading causes of death in the United States, and a major contributor to public health costs. The ‘Tips’ campaign is proof that the Prevention Fund is saving both lives and money, and I applaud the CDC for spearheading such an effective anti-smoking campaign,” Harkin said. “As a result of this campaign, calls to quit phone lines more than doubled, and visits to the campaign’s quit-assistance website more than quadrupled. These results highlight the importance of prevention and public health initiatives, and demonstrate how the Prevention Fund is making it possible for the United States to invest in evidence-based programs that lead to positive health outcomes.”

Harkin has championed preventive healthcare initiatives throughout his career, including increased access to screenings for breast cancer and other diseases, the school fruit and vegetable pilot program, menu labeling in restaurants, and tobacco control.  In 1998, Harkin introduced the first comprehensive, bipartisan bill to give the FDA authority to regulate tobacco.  Harkin was an original cosponsor of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which banned candy and fruit-flavored cigarettes and misleading health claims such as "light" and "low-tar."  It also requires tobacco companies to disclose the contents of tobacco products and empowers the FDA to require changes in tobacco products.

As HELP Committee Chairman, Harkin authored the prevention and wellness measures that are included in the Affordable Care Act.  Preventive initiatives in doctors’ offices and the community help rein in costs across the full health care spectrum. The prevention and public health measures of the health reform law create incentives to prevent chronic disease, and require health insurance companies to cover recommended preventive screenings with no copays or deductibles.

Since 2010, the Prevention and Public Health Fund has supported more than $200,000,000 in tobacco prevention and control work, including the Tips Campaign and expanding quit phone lines. The FY 2014 Senate appropriations bill that funds health programs (S.1284), sponsored by Senator Harkin, proposes that the Fund invest an additional $95 million in CDC’s tobacco prevention and control work.