Healthy Michigan Amendment Will Be On Ballot

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Supporters of the Healthy Michigan Amendment took petitions filled with 476,000 signatures to the state election division in an effort to put the amendment on the Nov. 5 ballot.

Now, voters will decide what Michigan should do with the approximately $300 million it receives annually as a result of the 1998 tobacco settlement. According the state's budget office, the money is currently being used to fund scholarships, health care programs, and public safety programs.

Budget expert, Kelly Chesney, said approximately $109 million is used for educational programs and scholarships, $115 million goes towards health related programs that benefit low income individuals and people who need long term care, and $100 million goes towards the preservation of public safety programs and services that benefit crippled children and low income or disabled people.

If the amendment passes, 90 percent of the tobacco settlement money would be used for smoking prevention, research and tobacco-related health care.

The state currently spends about $30 million to prevent smoking and educate young people. State representatives say they've cut the number of young people who smoke by 28 percent over the last four years.

Proponents of the amendment say of the 46 states involved in the tobacco settlement, Michigan is one of three that doesn't use the settlement money specifically to prevent smoking or smoking-related health problems. They say the money should be used to combat tobacco-related problems.