Lung Association Applauds Executive Budget

Budget Includes Crucial Air Quality, Asthma, and Tobacco Control Initiatives

ALBANY, NY (01/22/2008)(readMedia)-- The American Lung Association of New York State (ALANYS) today praised Governor Spitzer’s proposed Executive Budget for including important initiatives that will help improve air quality, reduce the deadly effects of asthma, and increase the fight against tobacco across New York State.

“Today’s budget proposal by Governor Spitzer makes clear that as a state we are moving forward, not backward, in the fight for clean air and healthy lungs,” said Michael Seilback, Senior Director of Public Policy & Advocacy. “By supporting these proposals, the Legislature will send a clear message that clean air is a priority.”

Although not included in the Executive Budget, ALANYS once again renewed it calls for an increase in the tobacco excise tax this legislative session. New York can further reduce smoking levels and also increase funding for tobacco control programs by enacting an additional $1.50 in the state tobacco excise tax.

A highlight of provisions included in the 2008-09 Executive Budget that will help all New Yorkers breathe easier is below.

-- Increased Funding for Asthma Self–Management Education. Evidence is now abundant that asthma self-management education is effective in improving outcomes. This crucial funding will allow Certified Asthma Educators to support people who have asthma in the self-management skills of self-assessment, use of medications, and actions to prevent or control exacerbations. This program will help provide a reduction in urgent care visits and hospitalizations, as well as reductions for asthma-related health care costs.

-- Shift $4.4 Million into Dedicated Tobacco Control Resources. In an effort to continue reducing the deadly effects of tobacco, the school based health clinics and healthy neighborhoods programs -- currently funded by the tobacco control funding pool -- will be moved into a dedicated funding source. As a result, $4.4 million in funds will be available for pure tobacco control purposes. All current tobacco control programs will remain in tact, at current funding levels.

-- Close the tax loophole on “mini-cigars.” New York State will join numerous other states around the nation in closing a tax loophole on mini-cigars. Mini-cigars are yet another way in which Big Tobacco lures individuals into deadly smoking habits. Taxing mini-cigars will not only reduce the number of New Yorkers using these deadly products, but also is forecasted to generate $3.6 million in 2008-09 and $4.8 million when fully effective.

-- Institute a Home Heating Fuel (bioheat) Tax Credit. The use of bioheat drastically reduces the levels of pollutants produced and, by providing a credit of up to a 20 cent per gallon used, this tax credit incentivizes the market for bioheat here in New York.