New Report Shows Need for Increased Tobacco Control Program Funding

Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids releases report with national health groups

NEW YORK, NY (December 9, 2013)

Fifteen years after the 1998 state tobacco settlement, New York ranks 21st in the nation in funding programs to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit, according to an annual report on states’ funding of tobacco prevention programs titled, “A Broken Promise to Our Children: The 1998 State Tobacco Settlement 15 Years Later.” The report was released by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and other health organizations.

“While New York has long been recognized as a leader in the public health arena, implementing innovative tobacco policies, we fail when it comes to funding the necessary resources that are essential to keeping kids off tobacco,” said Jeff Seyler, President & CEO of the American Lung Association of the Northeast. “We cannot be truly successful in combating tobacco’s burden until we implement comprehensive policies across the board and invest funds in proven resources. Across the nation we have squandered an opportunity to fight back against an industry that heavily targets our children and addicts them to deadly products.” 

NY tobacco infographicNew York currently spends $39.3 million a year on tobacco prevention and cessation programs, just 15.5% of the $254.3 million recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This equates to just 2 cents on every dollar in tobacco revenue to fight tobacco use. As conveyed in the American Lung Association’s State of Tobacco Control 2013 report, New York was given two A’s for having the highest cigarette tax in the nation and comprehensive indoor smokefree air laws, yet fails when it comes to tobacco prevention and cessation.

At one time, New York had an adequately funded tobacco control program, with $85.5 million being spent on tobacco prevention in 2008. Just five years later, program spending has been cut by more than half. Big Tobacco spends five times that amount - more than $213 million annually - marketing their deadly products to New York’s children alone.

“It is clear that investing in tobacco control programs works to reduce smoking, save lives and reduce health costs,” said Michael Burgess, New York State Advocacy Director for the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network. “New York needs to become a leader again in tobacco control by spending more on tobacco control from the huge sums generated by our high tobacco taxes.”

"The progress we've made to combat smoking has come to a screeching halt within certain vulnerable populations," said Julianne Hart, New York State Government Relations Director, American Heart Association. "Tobacco money must be used for tobacco control programs to help poor New Yorkers and protect children.  The fight against Big Tobacco is one we can't lose."

In New York, 11.9% of high school students smoke, and 15,300 more kids become regular smokers each year. In recent years, the state’s high school smoking rate has stalled; between 1999 and 2011, New York reduced high school smoking by 61 percent (from 31.8% to 12.5%).

Tobacco, the leading cause of premature death, causes an estimated 25,432 deaths in New York annually and costs the state’s economy more than $14 billion in healthcare costs and lost productivity, a tremendous burden that the state can ill afford.

Only two states - Alaska and North Dakota – currently fund tobacco prevention programs at the CDC-recommended level. The report found that nationally, most states fail to adequately fund tobacco prevention and cessation programs.

Spending sufficient funds on tobacco control is proven to drastically reduce smoking rates among both youth and adults and lower healthcare costs. Florida, with a well-funded, sustained tobacco prevention program, boasts a high school smoking rate of just 8.6% in 2013, well below the national high school smoking rate of 18.1%. Additionally, it was found that in the first 10 years of its tobacco prevention program, Washington saved more than $5 in tobacco-related hospitalization costs for every $1 spent on the program.

The full report is available at www.tobaccofreekids.org/reports/settlements.