VENTURA COUNTY: American Cancer Society Blasts Measure O
The Ventura County chapter of the American Cancer Society has joined the growing list of opponents to Measure O, stating that at least 20% of the county's $260 million tobacco settlement should be allocated for tobacco control activities, the Ventura County Star reports. "Measure O does not provide for any settlement dollars for this purpose," Helen Beebe, a spokesperson for the organization's local chapter, said. According to Beebe, the American Cancer Society wants to see the money distributed to health care organizations and private hospitals, with at least 20% earmarked "to prevent tobacco use [and] reduce the number of smokers and tobacco-related cancers, deaths and costs" (Koehler, 9/14). "Measure O does not provide any comprehensive tobacco control efforts to the people of Ventura County. There is no guarantee that any funds will go toward this purpose," Beebe said (Surman, Los Angeles Times, 9/14).
At a public meeting held Tuesday night concerning proposals for the tobacco settlement money, Community Memorial Hospital doctors, nurses, and supporters "packed the audience" to support Measure O. "The money needs to go to health care ... all the hospitals see the working poor and indigent, not just the county," nurse Suzanne Moore said. She added that Measure O funds would help address problems such as the nursing shortage and the lack of compensation private hospitals receive for treating the uninsured. Other groups, such as the League of United Latin American Citizens, opposed the measure because it would not benefit Ventura County Hospital or St. John's Regional Medical Center, two facilities not scheduled to receive money from Measure O this year. The meeting was the first of several the county has planned to provide residents with the opportunity to voice their opinions on "what health care needs should be addressed with the money" (Koehler, Ventura County Star, 9/13).