HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — More than 300 lung health advocates will be participating in a virtual “Day at the Capitol” event Tuesday, urging state lawmakers to maintain the funding that supports tobacco control and prevention programs.

The event, like many things, is virtual this year because of COVID. Organizers say the coronavirus pandemic and the e-cigarette epidemic make this funding and awareness more important than ever.

Advocates have visits scheduled with more than 70 state lawmakers Tuesday morning.

What they’re trying to do is secure the about $13.7 million of state funding that goes to tobacco prevention and control programs each year.

The Governor did put it in his budget, and advocates want to make sure it stays there as it goes through the approval process.

Lung health groups from across the state will speak about the importance of the programs this money pays for. They help people quit smoking, prevent kids from getting addicted and save smoking-related health care costs.

They’ll also be expressing support for Pennsylvania’s Clean Indoor Act to eliminate secondhand smoke exposure.

There will be various educational activities online throughout the day.

The event will end with a community forum which is open to the public.

“Attendees have the chance to hear lung health experts and youth involved in their youth tobacco prevention program, known as the Tobacco Resistance Unit (TRU), and hear about their experience and their opinion on why they think tobacco prevention is so important,” said Molly Pisciottano, the director of advocacy at the American Lung Association.

The American Lung Association says Pa. receives more than $1.6 billion of tobacco-related revenue, but tobacco control efforts funded by the state are only at around 12% of the level the CDC recommends.

The non-profit reports adult smoking rates in Pennsylvania to be more than 17% and high school rates to be nearly 27%.

More than 22,000 deaths a year are attributed to smoking in the Keystone State.

For more information, or to register for the event, click here.