A state tobacco quitline that took more than 90,000 calls from Illinois residents in the most recently completed fiscal year appears to be out of operation until at least July, amid a state budget shortfall.
Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has suspended $26 million in state social-service grants as part of a plan to close a shortfall of $1.6 billion in the budget for the fiscal year that ends June 30. The Associated Press reported that the governor would like to restore funding for the Illinois Tobacco Quitline after the start of the new fiscal year in July.
The decision to suspend the telephone hotline and lay off the more than two dozen people who work for the program that is free to consumers earned a strong rebuke from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “There simply is no valid reason for abolishing a program that saves lives and saves the state millions of dollars in health care costs,” campaign president Matthew L. Myers said in an April 15 statement.