OHIO Supreme Court in an unanimous decision - governor could legally snatch funds originally intended for anti-tobacco programs..

December 23, 2010 - The Ohio Supreme Court's decision Wednesday, December 22nd said Gov. Ted Strickland and state lawmakers could legally snatch $258 million originally intended for anti-tobacco programs. The justices ruled that the Ohio General Assembly, which had scooped up the money to help balance the state budget last year, did have the constitutional authority to decide how the money would be spent.
March 11, 2010 - The Ohio Supreme Court makes decision to hear the appeal in Legacy's case seeking to preserve tobacco funds and the life-saving tobacco control programs they support in Ohio. (OHIO - Supreme Court to hear the appeal in its case seeking to preserve tobacco funds ..)

January 21, 2010 - the Legacy(SM) -- a national public health foundation devoted to tobacco cessation and prevention -- asked the Ohio Supreme Court to hear the appeal in its case seeking to preserve tobacco funds and the life-saving tobacco control programs they support in Ohio. (OHIO - Legacy Foundation asks Supreme Court to hear appeal..);

January 6.2010 - The American Legacy Foundation said yesterday, January 6th that it will appeal a lower-court decision last week that would allow the state to use the tobacco funds in its two-year budget. The funds are what remain from the $10 billion that Ohio received from a 1998 settlement with major tobacco companies. (OHIO - American Legacy Foundation will appeal decision to allow state to use tobacco funds..);

December 31, 2009 - On Thursday, December 31, 2009 an Ohio three-member appeals court ruled the state can use about $230 million set aside for tobacco prevention for other purposes overturning a trial court's decision. The 10th District Court of Appeals said Ohio could spend the tobacco prevention money — which had originally been given to the Tobacco Use Prevention and Control Foundation — on an expansion of health care for children and optional Medicaid services. (OHIO - appeals court rules state can use money set aside for tobacco prevention..);

August 11, 2009 - A judge ruled Tuesday, August 11th that state officials had no authority to divert $230 million from an anti-tobacco fund to balance the recently approved state budget. The ruling by Franklin County Common Pleas Judge David Fais said the state cannot spend the funds, which were frozen after anti-smoking advocates filed a suit seeking to protect the money. (OHIO - judge rules money can not be diverted from anti-tobacco fund..).

Other related news briefs:
Ohio - Supreme Court rules in favor of R.J. Reynolds in Rolling Stones magazine multi-page ad..;
Ohio - state will provide NO funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs..;
Ohio - don't cut spending on anti-tobacco programs it will cost the state much more in the long run...
The $258 million was slated to go for human services programs such as an expansion of Medicaid coverage for children, adult and child protective services and some optional Medicaid services. But while $129 million of the tobacco funding has already been committed for optional Medicaid services for adults, it wasn't clear on Wednesday how the other half of the $258 million pot would be spent.

Outgoing Gov. Ted Strickland hailed the decision as a "great victory" for children's health in Ohio in a statement, even though Ohio Department of Job and Family Services spokesman Ben Johnson acknowledged that it isn't up to the current regime to decide whether the expansion of health care coverage for children will happen.

Instead, it will be up to Governor-elect John Kasich to decide whether $30 million of the money tapped to expand health care for an estimated 18,000 children will actually be spent that way. Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols did not return a call for comment. Additionally, no decision has been made by ODJFS Director Doug Lumpkin on what to do with $92 million of the funding that was originally intended for adult and children protective services, Johnson added.

A statement from Legacy (an anti-smoking group) President and CEO Cheryl Healton: "Sadly, Ohioans will pay an extremely high price for dismantling of the state's successful tobacco control foundation -- many with their lives," said "This decision will result in significantly more spending on the back-end with increased health care costs and lost productivity from sick smokers." The American Legacy Foundation

Reference: Ohio Supreme Court rules unanimously that state can snatch tobacco funds by Aaron Marshall, The Cleveland Plain Dealer, 12/23/2010.