Did your state make the grade?

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 calls for the following actions to be taken by New York's elected officials:

  1. Increase funding for the New York State Tobacco Control Program;
  2. Prohibit the sale of all flavored tobacco products; and
  3. Increase tobacco taxes by a minimum of $1.00 per pack.

New York has long been a national leader regarding its tobacco control laws. During the 2021 legislative session, however, New York wasn't very active regarding tobacco policy given its time and resources were largely invested in the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In May 2021, the Department of Health expanded access to smoking cessation counseling under Medicaid by including to include additional types of health care providers, such as nurses, social workers and psychologists. This will hopefully expand access to smoking cessation services to additional Medicaid enrollees.

Despite the tough budget climate, the 2021-22 state budget for the tobacco control program was level-funded at $39.8 million, about 21% of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)'s recommended level when federal funding from the CDC is included. The CDC recommends that New York spend $203 million on its tobacco control program.

The 2021 legislative session was once again held remotely due to health and safety concerns posed by COVID-19. In addition, a 20% budget "hold" was placed on state programs, including the tobacco control program, until the American Rescue Plan was signed into law in March 2021 that provided funds to cover the projected budget gap. Due to the budget uncertainty during that time, the state slowed their work on its tobacco control programs and coalition work.

New data from New York's Youth Tobacco Survey (NY YTS) show that after staggering increases in youth tobacco use between 2014 and 2018, primarily driven by electronic cigarettes, tobacco use among high school age youth has declined across all product categories from 30.6% to 25.6% between 2018 and 2020.
• Cigarette smoking among high school youth is at an all-time low: only 2.4% of high school youth are current smokers, representing a 91% decline in the youth smoking rate since 2000
• E-cigarette use among high school youth decreased in 2020, a first since New York has monitored use of these products, from 27.5% in 2018 to 22.5% in 2020.
• Other tobacco product use, including cigars, smokeless tobacco, pipe tobacco, and hookah, also decreased among high school youth, from 9.2% in 2018 to 6.1% in 2020.

The American Lung Association in New York will continue to build upon the success in 2021 with a sustained push on increasing funding for the tobacco control program and on enacting a statewide prohibition on the sale of all flavored tobacco products in 2022. The removal of menthol cigarettes, flavored cigars and other flavored tobacco products is a social justice and health equity issue and must be addressed. The Lung Association will also advocate for raising the tax on cigarettes, and other tobacco products, which has not been increased since 2010.
New York Facts
Economic Cost Due to Smoking: $10,389,849,268
Adult Smoking Rate: 12.0%
High School Smoking Rate: 2.4%
High School Tobacco Use Rate: 25.6%
Middle School Smoking Rate: N/A
Smoking Attributable Deaths per Year: 28,170

Adult smoking data come from CDC's 2020 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. High school smoking and tobacco use data come from the 2020 New York Youth Tobacco Survey. High school tobacco use includes cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco, hookah, and electronic cigarettes, making it incomparable to other states. A current middle school smoking rate is not available for this state.

Health impact information is taken from the Smoking Attributable Mortality, Morbidity and Economic Costs (SAMMEC) software. Smoking attributable deaths reflect average annual estimates for the period 2005-2009 and are calculated for persons aged 35 years and older. Smoking-attributable healthcare expenditures are based on 2004 smoking-attributable fractions and 2009 personal healthcare expenditure data. Deaths and expenditures should not be compared by state.

New York Information

Learn more about your state specific legislation regarding efforts towards effective Tobacco Control.

State Grades Report Laws & Policies