Category Archives: Politics and Economics

Funding Cut for Washington State Tobacco Program that Saved $5 per $1 Spent

In the December 2011 edition of the American Journal of Public Health a 10 year study of Washington state’s comprehensive tobacco control intervention found that for $1 spent by the state, they saved $5 in hospitalization and treatment costs. Wonderful! What an incredible investment! 5:1 return!

Here is a graph illustrating when their program went into effect and the decline in % Adults who smoke in Washington state (compared to the national rate).
Washington Smoking Trends

The program consisted of indoor smoking bans, tax increases on tobacco products, media campaigns, a tobacco quit line, and community and school programs, among other components. This state-based program was meant to serve as a model for other states. Well, it looks like they did a great job. In terms of public health programs and cost savings of $1:$5 is excellent. So what happened? Washington Governor Christine Gregoire and the state legislature cut nearly all the programs funding for fiscal year 2012. Wait, What?!

Why would you de-fund a state program that is saving the state millions of dollars? Instead of writing in a little spending on tobacco control, they are essentially writing in five times the spending in state health care costs. The only explanation I can think of is that the state is so hard up for cash in the short-term that they are willing to kick those unfettered health costs down the road (and basically allowing for increased human suffering over the coming years). And/Or, given the current attitudes towards decreasing the roles of government, it may be that some folks view government-run tobacco control as outside the appropriate scope of government. Since tobacco does cost governments so much money in terms of care, it seems to me that they do and should have the authority to control the impact that tobacco has on the monetary bottom line. The health protection aspect is another story, one that gets at the heart of the arguments about the role of government.

Clearly, there is a lot of work that needs to be done in terms of high-quality research that demonstrates the cost-savings and health-savings afforded by public health programs like tobacco control programs. There is also work that must be done to frame the issue as one that governments should and very much need to be involved in.


Mid-Atlantic Goods Movement Conference

Goods Movement Conference Logo
The Mid-Atlantic region is long overdue for a conference that brings together various stakeholders to discuss the impact of goods movement on public health. Conference topics include goods movement industry trends in the Northeast, impacts on nearby communities, and collaboration to develop cost-effective solutions to reduce air pollution from goods movement. Bringing together health professionals and policy makers will allow these leaders to work together to develop and implement region-specific policies and solutions.
Friday, September 23rd, 2011
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA

For more information, please contact Katie Edwards at 215-567-4004, ext. 102 or kedwards (at)

Stop Funding Cuts to Universities!

Research and innovation are key to America’s future in a competitive global market place. Where do many of the freshest ideas and new technologies come from? Research universities.

In fact, my own school, Temple University in Philadelphia, just surpassed the 1 million dollar mark for revenues related to research licensing. Temple is just getting started.

The lead earner is NYU, who in one year, received $157 million in research licensing revenues. Forbes Magazine compiled the research licensing revenues of the 189 top earning Universities. Total research-related income generated by all 189 schools: $1.5 billion. The most lucrative fields thus far have been biomedics, nanotechnology, agriculture and computer science.

This is some serious cash, but more importantly it represents valuable creations and inventions which lead to spin off companies, industry development and job creation.

Federal and state government budgets, for the past number of years have been cutting funding for universities (this year Pennsylvania cut it’s annual funding for Temple University by HALF!).
In his budget, Gov. Tom Corbett proposed slashing Temple’s state funding by nearly $90.3 million for next year, reducing it to $82.5 million. This is happening all throughout the country.

Money invested into universities pays back double: through research and technology development and through the overall benefits of higher education for the masses. Why are we sabotaging one of the key components in America’s economic engine and divesting in our populace?