Lower Hudson Journal News: Anti-smoking fight hurt by funding cuts

(December 20, 2009)


Letter to the editor
published December 20, 2009

Re "Report: NY lags in anti-smoking spending," Dec. 9 article:

The recent report should concern all residents of the Hudson Valley. The state's $10 million cut to tobacco prevention and control as part of the deficit reduction plan will further erode efforts to reduce tobacco use, prevent disease and save lives.

More than 25,000 New Yorkers die each year from smoking-related illnesses, and annual health-care costs caused by smoking exceed $8 billion. It is illogical to cut programs that are evidence-based and perform life-saving and cost-effective service. Since the state's tobacco control program was implemented, New York's smoking rate has consistently dropped.

Last year, New York received a grade of "F" in our annual State of Tobacco Control report when it came to tobacco-prevention-and-control spending. It's shameful that spending is being cut further at a time when it needs to be enhanced.

If New York truly wants to reduce the number of smokers and the prevalence of smoking-caused diseases, it must adequately fund tobacco-control efforts. Until then, criticism leveled against the state's commitment to smoking cessation is well warranted.

Scott T. Santarella


The writer is president and CEO, American Lung Association in New York.