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Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States and in New York. To address this enormous toll, the American Lung Association in New York calls for the following actions to be taken by our elected officials:

  1. Raise the age of sale for tobacco products to 21;
  2. Increase funding to New York's Tobacco Control Program; and
  3. License and tax electronic cigarettes in New York.
2018 was a year of incremental progress for tobacco control in New York State. Tobacco 21 continued to have momentum at the state level, with the Senate voting Tobacco 21 out of the Senate Health committee, and the Assembly moving the bill through the Health and Codes Committee. Due to the volume of legislation at the end of the legislative session, the bill was not voted on by the full Assembly. However, the American Lung Association in New York expects the bill to move in 2019. On the budget side, this year the Lung Association saw a small increase in funding for tobacco control to $39.9 million, but no new taxes on tobacco products, including on electronic cigarettes, were enacted.

There continued to be significant progress on the local level for Tobacco 21 legislation. The Lung Association saw a number of counties pass Tobacco 21 in 2018, including Westchester and Suffolk counties. In fact, more than 75 percent of New Yorkers are now covered by local laws restricting the sale of tobacco to youth. This is a significant jump from the just over 55 percent of New Yorkers who were covered at the end of 2017. In addition, the smokefree public housing rule by the Department of Housing and Urban Development will protect 200, 000 New York families from secondhand smoke.

It is imperative that New York begin to counter the stagnation of funding that has plagued the tobacco control program for a number of years. Lack of funding has had a direct impact on the ability to fight the disparities in tobacco use that continue to exist in areas across our state. Increased funding will allow for interventions targeted to the specific populations that have smoking rates that are double or triple the rest of the population.

New York must also ensure that we see a bill passed that prohibits the sale of tobacco products to those under 21. Additionally, New York must continue to pursue legislation which would license and tax the sale of electronic cigarettes at the state level. Currently e-cigarette retailers are not subject to licensing or taxation. The American Lung Association in New York believes that New York must increase the cost of e-cigarettes to continue to reduce youth tobacco use. Taxing and licensing e-cigarettes would also provide revenue to the state. New York has a long history of leading on tobacco control efforts, it is time for decision-makers to take decisive action to save lives

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