New York Receives Mixed Grades in Lung Association's Annual State of Tobacco Control Report

Albany, New York (January 13, 2009)

The American Lung Association in New York today highlighted findings of a new report which estimates the economic costs in New York State due to smoking are a staggering $14.1 billion dollars. The American Lung Association's State of Tobacco Control 2008 report grades states on tobacco prevention and control program funding, smokefree air laws, cigarette tax rates, and coverage of cessation treatments and services.

"Each year more than 25,000 New Yorkers die from tobacco-related illness," said Louise Vetter, Chief Executive Officer. "The State of Tobacco Control report is a clear reminder of the proven strategies for saving these lives, and the work New York has left to do to help people quit smoking, prevent people from becoming smokers, and protect all New Yorkers from the dangers of secondhand smoke."

New York State's grades in the State of Tobacco Control 2008 report are:

Tobacco Prevention and Control Spending: F

In 2008, New York State provided $81.9 million in funding for tobacco prevention and control -- less than a third of the $254.3 million recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The American Lung Association in New York will work to increase funding for the state tobacco control program to improve public health and reduce the economic burdens associated with smoking.

Cigarette Taxes: A

New York State is the national public health leader in tobacco taxation. In 2008, the American Lung Association in New York led efforts to make smoking more expensive and inconvenient by increasing the tobacco excise tax. On June 3, 2008, New York State raised the excise tax on cigarettes to $2.75 per pack, the highest in the nation. Additionally, New York City has its own additional $1.50 local cigarette excise tax, bringing the total tax to $4.25 across the five boroughs.

Smokefree Air Laws: A

With comprehensive smokefree legislation in effect since 2003, New York State expanded smokefree areas in 2008 to include all dormitories in public and private colleges and universities in New York State. However, with a 13.8 percent smoking rate for high school students and a 4.1 percent rate for middle school students, we must continue to work to prevent future generations of smokers. That is why in 2009 the Lung Association will work to limit smoking at public locations including playgrounds, parks, the entranceways to buildings, and beaches. Additionally, in 2009 we will continue to advocate for a ban on the sale and marketing of alcohol and candy flavored cigarettes.

Coverage of Cessation Services: F

Though it offers the New York State Smokers' Quitline, New York is woefully inadequate in other aspects of cessation coverage, including limits to the number of quit attempts covered per year and lack of individual and group coverage under Medicaid. In 2009, we will advocate for an expansion of cessation counseling coverage to all Medicaid participants. A comprehensive analysis of New York State's cessation coverage is available at http://www.lung.org/site/c.dvLUK9O0E/b.4748111. State coverage of tobacco cessation services and treatments, graded for the first time in the 2008 report, is based on recommendations outlined in the 2008 update to the U.S. Public Health Service's Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence Clinical Practice Guideline.

"Our highest in the nation tobacco tax means high cigarette prices which discourage youth and adults from smoking" said Michael Seilback, Vice President, Public Policy & Communications. "However, New York State can and must do more to prevent new generations of smokers from starting, and to help current smokers quit."

Tobacco-related illnesses claim close to 393,000 American lives every year and cost our nation $193 billion annually. Almost 50,000 additional deaths are due to secondhand smoke exposure, for which the U.S. Surgeon General has declared there to be no safe level of exposure.

For more information, or to view the complete New York State report card, visit us online at www.alany.org/SOTC.

Background:

New York's grade for tobacco prevention and control spending dropped this year due, in part, to the report's updated methodology. Grades are calculated by comparing policies against standards that are based on the most current, recognized scientific criteria for effective tobacco control measures. Updated state grading guidelines ensure that the methodology reflects the most current science and evidence about the effectiveness of specific tobacco control policies.

The American Lung Association is dedicated to protecting all workers from secondhand smoke through its Smokefree Air Challenge, which is a nationwide movement to eliminate exposure to secondhand smoke in all work and public places. New York is one of 23 states that have passed comprehensive smokefree workplace laws protecting the public and workers from the dangers of secondhand smoke.

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Now in its second century, the American Lung Association in New York is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. With your generous support, the American Lung Association is "Fighting for Air" through research, education and advocacy. For more information about the American Lung Association, or to support our work, call 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or visit www.alany.org.