The American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout on Nov. 19 is a day for people to create a plan to quit tobacco. 

One popular resource for those who want to quit is the Illinois Tobacco Quitline. But as state budget talks continue to draw out, funding for this free, lifesaving resource remains at risk. 

Tobacco use is the nation’s most preventable cause of death, but it still claims thousands of lives every year, right here in Illinois. Many of us have even watched our friends, family members and neighbors lose their lives to smoking. 

That reality makes it even more important to protect funding for the Quitline, which connects smokers with the support they need to break their addiction and has successfully led thousands of Illinoisans to quit for good. 

Because the Quitline is so successful, it saves the state money that would have been used to pay for health-care expenses from tobacco use. And since the program is paid for through the Tobacco Master Settlement — an agreement that the tobacco industry will pay states $10 billion each year indefinitely — it doesn’t cost taxpayers a cent. 

This Great American Smokeout, I urge our lawmakers to stand up for the health of our neighbors. Please join me in asking them to protect funding for the Illinois Tobacco Quitline.

Judy Rospenda