Albany Times Union (Letter to the editor): Snuff out smoking in films made in N.Y.

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Published Saturday, September 10, 2011

 The Aug. 28 story, "Smokes in films fire up critics," reporting research that the state is subsidizing films that depict tobacco use, is disturbing. If this is the case, state government is weakening the effectiveness of its own efforts to reduce smoking through the state Tobacco Prevention and Control Program, which already has sustained sizable cuts.

Earlier this year, the Lung Association's State of Tobacco Control Report gave New York an "F" for the level of funding it provides to its tobacco control program and an "F" for the cessation coverage it provides to smokers. We can and must do better.

We can begin by restoring funding to the Tobacco Control program, expanding coverage for programs to help smokers quit and refusing to give any breaks to films that depict tobacco use and influence New Yorkers to smoke.

When more than 25,000 New Yorkers die from tobacco each year and an estimated 389,000 children now under 18 are expected to die from tobacco, it's disheartening to see the state investing in efforts that make it harder to reduce these numbers.

For the sake of public health, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state Legislature must put public health first and invest in life-saving tobacco control efforts.

Dr. Irwin Berlin
Board chairman
American Lung Association in New York

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