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. Prohibit the sale of all flavored tobacco products;
2. Increase tobacco taxes by significant amounts; and
3. Increase funding to New York's Tobacco Control Program.

New York has long been a national leader regarding its tobacco control laws. During the 2020 legislative session, New York again took a leadership role passing strong tobacco control laws as part of the state budget. Specifically, New York State ended the sale of tobacco products in pharmacies; prohibited the use of coupons and other discounting measures for tobacco products; prohibited the delivery of e-cigarettes by private carriers, effectively eliminating the online sales of these products in New York, and lastly, prohibited the sale of flavored e-cigarettes. Each of these provisions would have been momentous on their own, but as a package, it was a very significant public health victory.

Despite the policy achievements in the budget, the state, once again, vastly underfunded the state's tobacco control program. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that New York spend $203 million on its tobacco control program. In the 2020-21 state budget, the program was funded at $39.8 million, less than 20% of the CDC-recommended level, the same level as the prior budget.

The 2020 legislative session, much like everything else around the world, was upended by the coronavirus. While legislators met sporadically and remotely, a traditional legislative session was never held. Additionally, due to the failure of the Congress and President to agree upon relief packages, state and local governments spent 2020 facing tremendous budget shortfalls. These budget shortfalls loomed over state programs, including the tobacco control program, with funding cuts projected if relief were not provided to New York. The state was also unable to execute new contracts with tobacco control programs and have slowed payments on tobacco control work that has already been completed.

The American Lung Association in New York will continue to build upon the success in 2020 with a sustained push on enacting a statewide prohibition on the sale of all flavored tobacco products. The removal of menthol cigarettes, flavored cigars and other flavored tobacco products is a social justice and health equity issue. It is imperative that New York's leaders address flavored tobacco in 2021. The Lung Association will also focus on raising the tax on cigarettes, and other tobacco products. The state's tax on cigarettes has not been increased since 2010. Increasing the tax on these products, will help reduce youth use, help current users quit and raise much needed revenue for the state. With an increase in tax, we will advocate to invest some of that new revenue back into the tobacco control program.
  • New York Facts
  • Economic Cost Due to Smoking: $10,389,849,268

  • Adult Smoking Rate: 12.7%

  • High School Smoking Rate: 4.2%

  • High School Tobacco Use Rate: 30.5%

  • Middle School Smoking Rate: N/A

  • Smoking Attributable Deaths per Year: 28,170

Adult smoking data come from CDC's 2019 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. High school smoking data is taken from the 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System. High school tobacco use data is taken from the 2018 New York Youth Tobacco Survey and 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.

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