ALBANY, NY (03/29/2011)(readMedia)-- The American Lung Association in New York today condemned the $17 million cut to the New York state Tobacco Control Program included in the budget agreement announced by state legislative leaders. The Association said the cut will severely impair the program and stifle efforts to both help New Yorkers' end their addiction to tobacco and prevent another generation of kids from ever beginning to smoke.
"This action is ultimately going to hurt people who want to quit smoking, the people who love them, and the state of New York," said Irwin Berlin, MD, Board Chair of the American Lung Association in New York. "More than 25,000 New Yorkers die from smoking each year and yet they are cutting a program that works to reduce that number while improving overall public health and reducing health care costs? This is penny-wise and pound-foolish. It's a destructive move that, in the long run, does nothing to improve the state's fiscal condition."
Earlier this year, the Lung Association praised Governor Cuomo and the Senate Majority when they each released budgets that held the line on tobacco control funding. However, the Assembly-only passed budget virtually eliminated funding for the program entirely prompting the Lung Association to lead a coalition of public health groups in criticizing the move. The massive cut announced today represents an agreement among both houses of the Legislature and the Governor.
The Lung Association noted that the economic cost of smoking in New York exceeds $14 billion annually, including $8 billion in healthcare costs. More than 2.7 million adults in New York state now smoke. Each year, more than 24,000 New York kids under age 18 become regular daily smokers.
"Just a few months ago, the Lung Association released its State of Tobacco Control Report which gave New York an "F" for the level of funding it commits to tobacco prevention and control," said Irwin Berlin, MD, Board Chair, American Lung Association in New York. "When so many New Yorkers are dying and suffering from smoking-caused diseases, we need our elected officials to invest more in tobacco control efforts, not less. This is a major disappointment."
The announced agreement cuts funding for the Tobacco Control Program by $ 17 million, which represents a more than 29 percent reduction in funding since last year. The newest cut will lead to an almost 50 percent reduction in funding since its peak in just 2007. The program funds important programs and services including the Smokers' Quitline and community-based efforts which discourage youth from ever beginning to smoke.
The Lung Association vows to continue to fight for increased funding for New York's Tobacco Control Program in an effort to prevent death and disease from tobacco.
About the American Lung Association in New York
Now in its second century, the American Lung Association in New York is the leading statewide organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. With your generous support, the American Lung Association is "Fighting for Air" through research, education and advocacy. For more information about the Lung Association, a Better Business Bureau Accredited Charity Seal Holder, or to support our work, call 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or visit www.alany.org.