1. Raise the age of sale for tobacco products to 21;
2. Expand the state Clean Indoor Air Act to restrict the use of electronic cigarettes; and
3. Increase the level of funding for the Tobacco Control Program from $39.3 million to $52 million per year.
During the 2016 legislative session we once again advocated extensively for an increase in the Tobacco Control Program funding, requesting an increase of $12.7 million. A sign-on letter was circulated throughout both houses of the legislature. A large number of representatives signed on to the letter in both houses. Unfortunately, this session saw significant competing interests for budgetary resources. While a number of programs took a cut in the 2016 budget, the tobacco control program, although not receiving the increase as hoped, did receive level funding.
The Lung Association commends New York for recently expanding smoking cessation coverage to include full coverage for cessation medications for the Medicaid population. This is an important step forward and we hope it will lead to even broader coverage without barriers for all New Yorkers.
The next major priority in the 2016 session was to again push for legislation prohibiting the use of electronic cigarettes indoors. For the first time since this bill was written several years ago, the Senate, including Senate leadership, indicated support for the legislation in 2016. This was largely a result of the final deeming rule being released by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration which elected to define electronic cigarettes as tobacco products. The bill did not make it through the Senate in 2016, but the prospects look good in 2017. Meanwhile, the bill passed the Assembly with less debate than previous years with seven members changing their positions from 'no' to 'yes' votes.
Legislation to increase the minimum age of sale for tobacco products to 21 often referred to as Tobacco 21 saw major movement on the local level during 2016. Albany, Schenectady, Cortland, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua have voted to raise the age of sale to 21, joining Suffolk County and New York City in doing so. Currently a number of other counties are considering similar legislation. As of September 2016, more than 50 percent of the state's population was covered by a Tobacco 21 law.
During the 2017 legislative session, the American Lung Association in New York will push to ensure a bill is passed that expands the state's smokefree law to restrict the use of electronic cigarettes, and capitalize on the movement of communities in New York to raise the age of sale for tobacco products to 21 statewide.