Albany Times Union: Tobacco control saves N.Y. money

(December 8, 2009)
Tobacco control saves N.Y. money

First published: Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The action by Gov. David Paterson and the state Legislature to cut New York's effective tobacco control program is ill-advised and will further hamper efforts to prevent tobacco use and save lives.

This cut will not help improve the state's long-term fiscal situation. The tobacco control program actually saves the state money because it helps reduce the number of people who smoke and the number of people who must be treated for smoking-related illnesses and diseases, which results in lower health care costs.

Last year, New York received an "F" on its annual State of Tobacco Control report when it came to tobacco prevention and control spending. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended funding in excess of $254 million. The $10 million cut to the program reduces state funding to about $51 million. Efforts to keep children from smoking and help adults quit will no doubt be affected.

The state Health Department estimates that 25,400 adult New Yorkers die each year as a result of smoking and another 570,000 suffer from serious smoking-caused diseases, including lung disease. Now is not the time to scale back on prevention funding.

Scott T. Santarella

President and CEO

American Lung Association in New York