Lung Association: Surgeon General Report Supports Case for Tobacco Fund Restoration

Statement by Michael Seilback, VP Public Policy and Communications, American Lung Association in New York

(March 8, 2012)

In response to the U.S. Surgeon General's Report, "Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults," Michael Seilback, VP of Public Policy and Communications at the American Lung Association in New York, released the following statement:

The American Lung Association in New York calls upon Governor Cuomo and the State Legislature to heed the important advice offered by U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Regina M. Benjamin today. By adequately investing in proven programs, like the New York State Tobacco Control Program (TCP), we can help prevent the next generation of our youth from falling victim to a lifetime addiction that we know leads to illness, disease and premature death.

The American Lung Association always encourages individuals to consult with their doctors and follow their advice regarding medical treatment for lung disease. Today, we're asking our elected officials to listen to the nation's physician and consider the findings in her hard-hitting, science-based report that again conclusively shows the effects that tobacco has on public health.

While New York continues to be a leader when it comes to strong smokefree air laws and high tobacco taxation, we are falling behind when it comes to investing in the programs we desperately need in place to counteract Big Tobacco's messages and make further reductions in the smoking rate in order to save lives.

New York has made tremendous progress in reducing the smoking rate but our work is far from being done. There are 25,000 New Yorkers who will die this year as a result of tobacco use. What's more, the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids estimates that 389,000 New York kids alive today will one day die as a result of tobacco use. If we're going to reduce the devastating toll tobacco causes here in New York, our elected officials need to follow the doctor's orders and beef up funding for tobacco control.

As the Surgeon General's Report makes clear, restoring state tobacco control funding is a matter of life or death. New York's program has been cut drastically in recent years and the reduction being proposed by the Governor this year will further reduce our ability to reach smokers who want to quit and dilute the messaging our kids need to hear about tobacco. A recent statewide survey of New York voters confirms that a strong bipartisan majority supports funding restorations for this lifesaving program. For the sake of the public's health, we urge the Governor and Legislature to restore funding to the State's tobacco control program to $54 million – the level it was approximately two years ago.