STATEMENT OF SCOTT T. SANTARELLA, PRESIDENT AND CEO OF THE AMERICAN LUNG ASSOCIATION IN NEW YORK
The American Lung Association in New York applauds Governor David Paterson and the State Legislature for heeding our call to increase taxes on tobacco as a way to encourage more New York smokers to quit and prevent more children from ever starting to smoke. The Lung Association is also pleased that our elected officials restored vital funding to the state's tobacco control program which is sorely needed in order to help smokers quit.
By approving new and higher tobacco taxes which include a $1.60 increase in the tax on a pack of cigarettes, an increased tax on snuff and other smokeless tobacco products, and tax parity of cigarillos (little cigars), the Governor and Legislature will make a positive and lasting impact on public health. The provision to force collection of taxes on cigarettes sold to non-Indians on Native American reservations will help keep tobacco prices uniformly high throughout the state. There is no doubt that these actions will save lives.
The bottom line is that cigarettes, when used as directed, kill. Other tobacco products like little cigars and snuff are just as deadly. We are pleased that the state is taking strong action to discourage the use of all tobacco products, especially those that Big Tobacco continues marketing to our youth.
More than 25,000 New Yorkers die as a result of tobacco use each year. Another 570,000 New Yorkers suffer from tobacco-caused illnesses that damage their quality of life. Today's action by the Legislature is the kind of bold action we need to take to reduce the terrible harm inflicted by tobacco.
Today's tax increase will result in more than 23,000 fewer high school smokers. It will also encourage nearly 120,000 adult smokers to quit. This means more lives spared the pain of lung disease and more lives saved.
New York state must now pass policies which promote and expand covered smoking cessation services for state employees and Medicaid recipients. It is vital that smokers have the tools they need to help them quit.
The American Lung Association in New York wants to remind New Yorkers who want to quit smoking that help is available. The Lung Association offers its Freedom From Smoking Online program as a convenient way to help New Yorkers quit. It can be accessed at ffsonline.org