Advocates push for more tobacco-prevention spending

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As the Senate and Assembly prepare to release their one-house budget proposals, anti-smoking advocates are urging lawmakers to reject Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed $5 million cut to the state’s Tobacco Control Program. Funding in the current fiscal year, which ends April 1, is $41.4 million. They are proposing that legislators boost funding to $54 million in the 2012-13 fiscal year.

Their push comes the same day U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin released a report on preventing youth tobacco use. More than 600,000 middle-school students and three million high-school students in this country smoke.

“Most New Yorkers, the U.S. Surgeon General and nearly 100 local leaders from across the state agree — stronger funding for New York’s anti-tobacco program must be a priority as lawmakers negotiate the final state budget,” said Russ Sciandra, the New York director of advocacy for the American Cancer Society of New York and New Jersey. “The importance of this program is obvious to a large majority of New Yorkers, so why is its future in question among state lawmakers?”

A case study on New York that’s included in the report said the state’s Tobacco Control Program, which began in 2000, along with New York City’s efforts since 2002, have helped reduce youth smoking.

“To maintain their effectiveness, such programs need to be funded according to CDC recommendations in a sustained manner and include policy change, such as creation of smoke-free environments that reinforce a nonsmoking norm,” the report said.

Cuomo told reporters this afternoon that the issue comes down to money, not the potential benefit spending additional money would have. “It’s a dollar thing. It’s cost,” he said.

For every tobacco-related death, two people under 26 become regular smokers, according to federal officials. Nearly 90 percent of them smoke their first cigarette by the time they’re 18. Roughly 75 percent of high-school smokers continue the habit well into adulthood. The younger people are when they start smoking, the more likely they are to become addicted and heavily addicted.

“The addictive power of nicotine makes tobacco use much more than a passing phase for most teens. We now know smoking causes immediate physical damage, some of which is permanent,” U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin said in a statement.

Lung damage from smoking is permanent, and substantial health risks like cardiovascular damage begin immediately in young smokers, the report said. The marketing and promotion of tobacco products totals more than $1 million an hour.

“Targeted marketing encourages more young people to take up this deadly addiction every day,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement.

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7 Comments

  1. Why is it that all our porky Surgeons General, especially this one, who each enjoys harassing us with more and more political regulation and condescension, are each 100 pounds overweight?

  2. Tax It Double on

    The consultant’s comment should give everyone a good understanding why he has, over 25 years, consulted Westchester Republican candidates into oblivion.

  3. “As the Senate and Assembly prepare to release their one-house budget proposals, anti-smoking advocates are urging lawmakers to reject Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed $5 million cut to the state’s Tobacco Control Program.”

    Which is why I sent the governor and all NYS legislators the other side of the story. An examination of the crusade’s claims for balance: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/audrey-silk/tobacco-control-programs_b_1320472.html

    Notably, this push doesn’t coincidentally come the same day as this article implies. It’s orchestrated. Desperation for the money (by anti-smoker groups across the country, not just NY) is what timed this SG’s report and their resorting to “the children.” The funding is what they want. It’s just that they’re using “the children” to get it and misleading everyone on what the real debate it.

    Founder, NYC Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment (C.L.A.S.H.)

  4. If someone really wants to stop smoking, there are many resources available to them. There is absolutely no reason why we need to give tax money to organizations so they can exist. If they really cared, they would do it for free.

  5. The truth is it would be a shame to lose all the progress we’ve made in this area over the last decade or so just for financial reasons. The Government should allocate necessary funds to tobacco prevention, or we risk losing considerably more money on healthcare for smoking-related diseases.

    I think taxes on tobacco are high enough right now, they should increase taxing on other known dangers like sugary drinks and fatty foods.