Mar. 29 2011
Washington, D.C. — The New York Assembly has protected the tobacco industry at the expense of New York's kids and taxpayers by pushing for a budget agreement that decimates funding for the state's highly successful Tobacco Control Program. This is a truly penny-wise, pound-foolish decision that will cost New York a high price in health, lives and tobacco-related health care costs, which total more than $8 billion a year in New York.
While these are tough budget times, it makes no sense to destroy a program that is saving lives and saving money and that has already been severely cut. If the new cuts are adopted, New York will have cut funding by more than half for programs proven to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit.
Instead of taking out the hatchet, New York should be spending more of the $2 billion the state it collects each year in tobacco settlement payments and tobacco taxes to fund this vital program. With these cuts, New York will be spending less than two percent of its tobacco money to fight the tobacco problem.
Even with the success of New York State's tobacco prevention efforts, there is still a great deal of work to do. The sad reality is that 25,400 New Yorkers die annually from smoking- related disease, and more than 24,100 New York kids become regular smokers each year. New Yorkers will pay a high price because the Assembly has abdicated its responsibility to fight the state's number one cause of preventable death.