Lung Association Renews Call For Increased Tobacco Control Funding

New Report Recommends NY Spend a Dime on Tobacco Control for Every Dollar in Tobacco Revenue Collected

(September 19, 2011)

A new report issued today argues that the health and financial benefits New York could realize from helping smokers quit are destined to go “up in smoke” if funding for the state’s Tobacco Control Program continues on its current course. The report, “Up in Smoke: New York Reaps Billions of Revenue in Tobacco While Short Changing Anti-Smoking Programs,”was issued  by the American Cancer Society, the American Lung Association in New York and other public health groups.

According to the report, New York has raised $10.5 billion in tobacco revenues over the past six years, yet less than four percent has been spent on tobacco control programs.  This translates into less than four pennies out of every dollar collected from tobacco sales being invested in helping New York’s smokers quit. 

“This report lends further credence to what we’ve been saying for years now:  funding for tobacco control is woefully inadequate in our state,” said Michael Seilback, Vice President of Public Policy and Communications of the American Lung Association in New York.  “Last year, New York received an ‘F’ in our State of Tobacco Control Report for the level of funding it provided for the tobacco control program.  Not only do we need the Governor to commit to investing more on tobacco control in his Executive Budget, we need the legislature to support that investment.”

While the  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that New York annually spend $254 million on tobacco control in order to provide a comprehensive tobacco control program, public health groups are asking that the program be funded at $100 million this fiscal year and incrementally increased in future years until the target is met. To achieve the CDC- recommended funding level, New York would need only to commit a dime out of every dollar it raises from tobacco revenue.

“As a physician, I see patients every day who smoke and who will likely die from tobacco-caused disease or suffer from painful a lung disease if they fail to quit,” said Irwin Berlin, MD, board chair of the American Lung Association in New York. “The frustrating part is that most smokers do want to quit but they need the tools to help them do so.  Beating this powerful addiction is no small feat and smokers need to have the full arsenal of quit smoking tools at their disposal if they’re going to be successful.  We need to provide them with that by adequately funding tobacco control.  If we don’t do this, we are not only jeopardizing our ability to lower the smoking rate and save on health care costs, we’re risking lives.”      

“Legislators need to understand the implications of not adequately funding tobacco control efforts,” Seilback added.  “Not only are they failing to help improve public health, they’re also missing an opportunity to save on health care costs. As the report points out, the state loses an estimated $8.17 billion in health care costs and $2.7 in Medicaid costs annually as a result of tobacco use.”