Arkansas Lawmakers Prepare To Defund State’s Smoking Hotline

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ARKANSAS (KFSM) – After weeks of discussion, lawmakers in Little Rock elected to defund the Arkansas smoking hotline, which provides advisers to tobacco users looking to quit.

The proposal was brought up, after legislators said the $1.8 million operations fee would be better used elsewhere in the budget.

“$1.8 million is a lot of money, when you see social workers in foster care are short workers, and we are short the ability to pay them what they need to be paid,” said Bart Hester, State Senator from Cave Springs.

Hester is one of the majority, who supported the defunding. The proposal was heavily favored in Little Rock. However, those who work directly with tobacco users said the defunding would be a bad move for the state.

The Northwest Arkansas Tobacco & Drug Free Coalition said the funding was incredibly useful.

In a survey on Twitter, nearly 90% of users said they would prefer their tax dollars be used anywhere except the smoking hotline.

In a survey on Twitter, nearly 90% of users said they would prefer their tax dollars be used anywhere except the smoking hotline.

“[Workers] ask questions, they do an interview to see where [callers] are at, and what kind of cigarettes they are smoking,” said Sandy Montero, Project Coordinator for the coalition.

Those who support the hotline will be given an opportunity to share why they want the funding to continue, before the line is officially ended.

“It would be heartbreaking if that funding were to go away,” Montero said. “It is the only resource out there that is free to the community. That is why it is so valuable. Without this line, the community wouldn`t have something to access.”

Hester said insurance agencies are required by law to provide similar services, and with the Affordable Care Act, all Americans should be covered.

“We are doubling up on services that the federal government says everyone already has,” Hester said.

Hester added the new trend of vaping could decrease tobacco use faster than the hotline would anyway.

“I think the free market has to fix this. I don`t think it is the government`s role to control if somebody smokes or not,” Hester said.

Hotline supporters said the loss of funding could result in many choosing a deadly habit, instead of seeking the help they need.

“Without that funding, without the quit line, we wouldn`t be able to eliminate health disparities, or promote quitting,” Montero said.

If continued as planned, the funding for the hotline would end by the end of August 2016.

 

5 comments

    • Never go full liberal

      Not only that but how are they getting it? I know tobacco is ridiculously expensive in Arkansas versus going to OK or MO. Surely the money is coming from the tobacco taxes.

  • Iro CyZane

    ” “It is the only resource out there that is free to the community. That is why it is so valuable. Without this line, the community wouldn`t have something to access.”

    $1,8 million is NOT free. Taxpayers are still paying for it through the back door both smokers and nons. Far better uses for the money than a hotline that probably peddles useless nicotine replacement therapy. E-cigs do a far better job for those who wish to go smokeless and they don’t cost the taxpayer a single dime. Only the user.

  • Keith Wildman

    I don’t understand why we need these stop smoking services any more when we have Electronic Vapor Devices. These miraculous devices have helped over nine million smokers in the USA to stop smoking and another 18 million to drastically cut down their smoking to just a few a day. if this trend is allowed to continue, it will destroy smoking in ten or so years. I understand that the ANTI-TOBACCO industry is a 15,000,000,000 dollar a year business, and that they won’t go away quietly. But they will have to face the fact that SMOKING is on its death bed and it is only a matter of time that it will be destroyed completely.

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