Middletown Times-Herald Record: Smokers funding more than planned

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Published: 2:00 AM - 04/06/11

The American Cancer Society is upset with the state Legislature, and for good reason. Buried in the new budget is a reduction in state funds for anti-smoking efforts, even though the state has made great strides in taxing smokers and gathering more revenue.

The state's high taxes on cigarettes and its extensive ban on indoor and even some outdoor smoking were reasons for the American Lung Association to give it high grades last year in a roundup of local health efforts. But the state was at the bottom of the list when it came to putting that money to good use in helping keep youngsters from smoking and especially in the support of programs that help smokers quit.

Because New York does not put enough money into those efforts, the state has smoking rates not that much lower than states where smoking is embraced as an industry and way of life.

And the irony is that the tobacco lobby is not really the villain here because there is little evidence that lawmakers felt any pressure to make these reductions in the program. As the Cancer Society concludes, legislators just decided that with all that money coming in, they could use it for some other purpose instead of putting it where it belongs and where most people believe it is going, into the programs that would help smokers stop and keep youngsters from starting.