New York State Poised to Lead Nation in Policy Efforts to Prevent and Reduce Tobacco Use

American Lung Association report reveals best and worst states for tobacco control policies, outlines steps to reduce burden of tobacco in New York
According to the American Lung Association’s 21st annual “State of Tobacco Control” report, released today, New York State is in a position to solidify its leadership role on tobacco control policies.  The state’s mixed grades remained the same for the second year in a row, with tobacco use rates in decline, showing that a Tobacco-Free Generation is within reach.  

The “State of Tobacco Control” report evaluates state and federal policies on actions taken to eliminate tobacco use and recommends proven-effective tobacco control laws and policies to save lives. This is critical, as tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in America and takes the lives of 28,170 New York residents each year.

“New York has been a leader on tobacco control policy for decades, and we are pleased to see both adult smoking rates and youth tobacco use rates on the decline,” said Trevor Summerfield, Director of Advocacy at the American Lung Association in New York. “This is important progress, however, there are still 1 in 4 high school students in New York State using tobacco products, putting their health at great risk.  If the State can deliver on Governor Hochul’s vision to increase tobacco taxes and remove all flavored tobacco from shelves in the next session, we have a real chance to save lives.”

New York’s Grades 
The “State of Tobacco Control” report grades states and the District of Columbia in five areas that have been proven to prevent and reduce tobacco use and save lives. In the 2023 report, New York received the following grades: 
  1. Funding for State Tobacco Prevention Programs – Grade F
  2. Strength of Smokefree Workplace Laws – Grade A
  3. Level of State Tobacco Taxes – Grade B
  4. Coverage and Access to Services to Quit Tobacco – Grade C
  5. Ending the Sale of All Flavored Tobacco Products – Grade D 
This year’s report noted the need for New York policymakers to focus on ending the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes. According to the 2022 National Youth Tobacco Survey, more than 2.5 million high school and middle school students use e-cigarettes, and more 85% of those kids use flavored e-cigarettes. In addition, menthol cigarettes continue to be the major cause of tobacco-related death and disease in Black communities, with over 80% of Black Americans who smoke using them. Ending the sale of flavored tobacco products, including menthol, will not only help end youth vaping, but will also help address the disproportionate impact of menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars have on many communities, including Black Americans, LGBTQ+ Americans and youth.  

Additionally, the report recommended that the State increase tobacco taxes. One of the most effective ways to reduce tobacco use, among both low-income individuals and also for youth, is to significantly increase the tax on all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. Multiple studies have shown that every 10% increase in the price of cigarettes reduces consumption by about 4% among adults and about 7% among youth. New York has not significantly increased its tobacco tax since 2010 and the Lung Association supports Governor Hochul’s proposal to increase the tax by $2.00 per pack.

The State’s singular failing grade remains in the category for funding the tobacco control program. Despite receiving $1.8 billion from tobacco settlement payments and tobacco taxes, New York only funds tobacco control efforts at 20.7% of the level recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Lung Association believes the funds should be used to support the health of our communities, and to prevent tobacco use and help people quit, and not switch to e-cigarettes. These programs are also critical for helping to end tobacco-related health disparities and would greatly support the impact of higher tobacco taxes and the removal of flavored tobacco from the New York market by giving those wanting to quit tobacco additional resources and programs. 
 
Federal Grades Overview

The report also grades the federal government on their efforts to eliminate tobacco use. This year, there were new steps taken by the government to prevent and reduce tobacco use, including proposed rules to end the sale of menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars, Congress passing a law requiring the FDA to regulate tobacco products made with synthetic nicotine, and increased federal enforcement of the Tobacco Control Act. As a result of these steps forward, the federal government’s grade for “Federal Regulation of Tobacco Products” improved from a “D” grade last year, to a “C” grade in the 2023 report.

The 2023 “State of Tobacco Control” report grades the federal government in five areas: 
  • Federal Government Regulation of Tobacco Products – Grade C
  • Federal Coverage of Quit Smoking Treatments – Grade D
  • Level of Federal Tobacco Taxes – Grade F
  • Federal Mass Media Campaigns to Prevent and Reduce Tobacco Use – Grade A
  • Federal Minimum Age of Sale for Tobacco Products to 21 – Incomplete
FDA is overdue in publishing the final Tobacco 21 regulations as required by statute, which is why it earns an “incomplete.”  

To learn more about this year’s “State of Tobacco Control” grades and take action, visit Lung.org/sotc.

Media Resources available by request to [email protected]
 
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