Lung Association: Smoking Must Be Made More Expensive, Less Convenient
Legislature Must Act Now to Pass Landmark Tobacco Control Measures
ALBANY, NY (06/23/2008)(readMedia)-- As the 2008 New York State Legislative Session winds down, the American Lung Association of New York State highlights legislation passed during the past year, or still pending before the legislature, which will help reduce the deadly effects of tobacco use in New York State.
"When tobacco is expensive and inconvenient, adults quit and children don't start," said Michael Seilback, Senior Director of Public Policy and Advocacy. "Governor Paterson and our state legislators made fighting tobacco a priority this session, however important measures remain which must be addressed before the legislature goes home."
For more information on the public health impact of any of these measures, or to arrange an interview with a local expert, please call Brian Marchetti at (518) 465-2013 x 322. Policy analysis of these bills is available at www.alanys.org by clicking on the Legislation & Public Policy tab.
Smoke-free Playgrounds (A.7469b / S. 684b)
Passed in the Senate on May 12, and currently in the Assembly Rules committee, this legislation would prohibit smoking in playgrounds. By removing yet another pollutant from an environment where children recreate, this bill could mean the difference of having an asthma attack or not for those children who currently play in areas that the bill would cover. Because their lungs are so much smaller, children breathe in 50 percent more air pollution than an adult and are more susceptible to the dangers associated with tobacco smoke - even if outdoors.
Tobacco Disclosure Law (S. 4516 / A. 7101)
Passed in the Assembly on June 17, and currently in the Senate Rules Committee, this law require cigarette manufacturers to disclose the chemical substances and product design characteristics used in the manufacture of cigarettes. Cigarette smoke contains over 4,800 chemicals, 69 of which are known to cause cancer. The leading cause of preventable death in the nation, smoking is directly responsible for approximately 90 percent of lung cancer deaths and approximately 80-90 percent of COPD (emphysema and chronic bronchitis) deaths. The disclosures required by this bill will provide vital information on what is contained in tobacco, and will help discourage tobacco use across New York State.
Banning Flavored Cigarettes (A.7368a / S.4517a)
Passed the Assembly on March 26 and currently in the Senate Health Committee, this legislation prohibits the sale cigarettes which contain a natural or artificial flavoring that makes the cigarette or its smoke have a characterizing flavor. Tobacco companies spend over $800 million in New York State each year advertising and marketing their products. The tobacco industry has come forward with a new wave of products, such as candy-flavored cigarettes, that appear to continue to targeting children and teens. As 90 percent of smokers begin the deadly addiction before the age of 18, this legislation will help to stop youth from starting.
Encrypted Cigarette Packs (A.6118c / S.1872d)
Passed the Senate on June 16 and currently held for consideration in the Assembly Ways and Means Committee, this legislation requires cigarette manufacturers to use high tech cigarette tax stamps and will fund cigarette tax enforcement and anti-smuggling activities. A recent New York State Department of Health study documented widespread tax evasion. In fact, it found that more than 33 percent of New York's smokers have purchased untaxed cigarettes at sources including stores on Native American reservations, internet sales, or through black market purchases. Collecting these taxes is estimated to reduce the number of New York smokers by as much as 50,000, while also providing several hundred million dollars in new revenue for the state and local governments.
Tobacco Wholesaler Tax Collection (S8146b / A11258a)
Currently in the Assembly Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Investigations and Government Operations Committee, this legislation amends the tax law to prohibit tobacco product manufacturers from selling cigarettes to any wholesale cigarette dealer or tax stamping agent who has illegally sold unstamped cigarettes to dealers. Unfortunately, in New York State there are still many avenues (e.g. sales by Native American vendors and smuggling) for unlawfully stamped cigarette packages to get into the hands of smokers. This legislation helps to remedy this problem by prohibiting the sale of tobacco to scofflaw tobacco dealers.
Raising the Purchase Age for Cigarettes to 19 (S.4515 / A.2537)
Currently in the Senate Health Committee and the Assembly Codes Committee, this bill will increase the purchasing age for tobacco and tobacco products from 18 years of age to 19 years of age. In New York State, laws are now in place that severely restricts children's access to cigarettes. In fact, New York State has some of the strongest laws in the nation preventing youth access to tobacco products. To continue the efforts to prevent our youth from smoking, it makes sense for New York to raise the purchase age and make it illegal for anyone under 19 to purchase cigarettes.
Cigarette Excise Tax Increase (S. 6087c / A.9807c)
Included as part of the budget, this crucial measure raising the excise tax on cigarettes by $1.25 was signed into law in April, and took effect on June 3, 2008. With this increase, New York State is now the national public health leader in tobacco taxation. This increase will eventually save the lives of over 77,000 youth who will be prevented from becoming smokers, and save more then 37,000 adult New Yorkers from a tobacco-caused death by helping them quit.
Smoke-Free College Dormitories (A.538a / S.1955a)
Passed in the Assembly on January 29 and in the Senate on June 20, this legislation prohibits smoking in dormitories and other group residential facilities of public and private colleges and universities in New York. On January 11, 2007, the New York State Board of Regents voted to ban smoking in all dormitories on the State University campuses. Once signed into law by Governor David Paterson, this measure will extend smokefree living conditions to students in private colleges and universities.