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New York State Failing in Efforts to Reduce Tobacco Use, Finds American Lung Association National Tobacco Report

State of Tobacco Control’ report finds New York State has a lot of work to do to protect residents, youth from the harms of tobacco use, secondhand smoke

(January 25, 2017) -

The American Lung Association’s “State of Tobacco Control” report has found that in 2016 New York failed to do enough to implement proven-effective policies that would save lives. The 15th annual report grades states and the federal government on policies to prevent and reduce tobacco use. The report shows that most states and the federal government earned poor grades. While New York has not passed a statewide law to increase the age of sale for tobacco products to 21 years old, earning it a “D” for the Lung Association’s “Tobacco 21” category, it did receive an “A” for “Smokefree Air” as one of 28 states that have passed comprehensive smokefree laws.

“Tobacco use is the leading cause of death and disease in our nation.  Over 2.2 million adult residents of New York currently smoke, while 28.8% of New York high school students currently use tobacco products,” said Jeff Seyler, President and CEO of the American Lung Association of the Northeast. “We know what works when it comes to preventing and reducing tobacco use, what we need is New York policymakers to implement the policies and programs called for in ‘State of Tobacco Control’ that would save lives and protect kids from a lifetime of addiction.”

The “State of Tobacco Control” report documents the progress and failures of the states and the federal government to address tobacco use, and the report assigns grades based on whether federal and state laws protect Americans from the enormous health toll tobacco use takes on lives and the economy. This year, the report has added a new grade on efforts to increase the minimum sales age for tobacco products to 21.

“Close to 95 percent of adult smokers try their first cigarette before the age of 21,” said Seyler. “Increasing the minimum age of sale for tobacco products to 21 will significantly reduce youth tobacco use and save thousands of lives nationwide.”

This year’s “State of Tobacco Control” finds New York State’s mixed grades show that much more must be done by our Governor and State Legislature to pass proven-effective policies that will reduce tobacco use and save lives:

  • Funding for State Tobacco Prevention Programs – Grade F
  • Strength of Smokefree Workplace Laws - Grade A
  • Level of State Tobacco Taxes - Grade B
  • Coverage and Access to Services to Quit Tobacco - Grade D
  • Minimum Age of Sale for Tobacco Products to 21 – Grade D

The American Lung Association of the Northeast calls on New York State to act to increase the age of sale for all tobacco products to 21; restore statewide funding for tobacco prevention and cessation efforts; and pass the proposals found within Governor Cuomo’s Executive Budget proposal to treat e-cigarettes the same as other tobacco products, which would include restricting their use in places where smoking is restricted; require retailers to register, and a new tax on the products.  One spot of hope on the report shows the state did make some progress in the access to cessation services category where the state moved last year’s grade of an “F” to a “D.”

“While New York State has made great progress at the local level on Tobacco 21 and smokefree laws being expanded to include e-cigarettes, it’s time for Albany to act and pass statewide laws,” said Michael Seilback, Vice President of Public Policy & Communications. “Last year over $10 billion was spent on health care costs due to smoking in New York and 28,170 New Yorkers lost their lives to tobacco.  New York has a long history of being a leader on tobacco-control efforts, it’s time to return to its leadership role.”

In this year’s “State of Tobacco Control,” the federal government earned an “F” for Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Regulation of Tobacco Products. Although the American Lung Association applauds the release of the final rule that gave FDA authority over all tobacco products, the report recognizes the Obama Administration’s failure to proceed with other key initiatives including requiring graphic warning labels on cigarettes and the federal government’s failure to move forward on issuing a rule to end the sale of menthol cigarettes nationwide – despite the recommendations from an FDA expert advisory committee.

Other federal grades include a “C” for Federal Coverage of Quit Smoking Treatments, an “F” for Level of Federal Tobacco Taxes and a “B” for its Mass Media Campaigns, including the Tips from Former Smokers Campaign.

“It’s not a secret how to reduce tobacco use in this country. ‘State of Tobacco Control’ looks at proven methods to save lives and prevent our children from becoming the next generation hooked on tobacco,” said Seyler. “We must demand that New York elected officials urgently act to implement these proven policies that will save lives and prevent tobacco-caused death and disease.”

For media interested in speaking with an expert about the “State of Tobacco Control” report, lung health, tobacco use and tobacco control policies, contact the American Lung Association at [email protected] or 516-680-8927


About the American Lung Association of the Northeast
The American Lung Association of the Northeast is part of the American Lung Association, the oldest voluntary health organization in the U.S. Established in 1904 to combat tuberculosis; our mission today is to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. The focus is on air quality, asthma, tobacco control, and all lung disease. The American Lung Association in the Northeast serves CT, MA, ME, NH, NY, RI and VT.

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