New York failed to protect children from tobacco's marketing tactics by neglecting to invest in programs and policies proven to reduce tobacco use, according to the American Lung Association's State of Tobacco Control 2013 report.
While the report gives New York high marks for having the highest cigarette tax in the nation and praises the state's strong smokefree indoor air laws, the state again received failing marks for inadequately funding its tobacco control program and failing to remove the barriers that prevent New Yorkers from accessing needed smoking cessation services.
The Lung Association's annual State of Tobacco Control report tracks progress on key tobacco control policies at the federal and state level, assigning grades based on whether laws are adequately protecting citizens from the enormous toll tobacco use takes on lives and the economy.
The 11th annual report shows how money is often at the root of the leading cause of preventable death, as state and federal policymakers are failing to battle a deep-pocketed, ever-evolving tobacco industry.
New York received the following grades for 2013:
Tobacco Prevention Control and Spending - F;
Tobacco prevention control and spending
Spending - F
Smokefree Air - A
Cigarette Tax - A
Cessation - F
Smokefree Air - A;
Cigarette Tax - A; and
Cessation - F.
"Last year's report severely criticized New York for cutting its already grossly underfunded tobacco control program," said Jeff Seyler, American Lung Association of the Northeast president and chief executive officer. "While the state funding remained level in 2012 total program spending is still $40 million less than it was just five years ago. Adequate funding is essential if we're going to prevent kids from starting to smoke and help more smokers quit their deadly addiction. A program funded closer to the CDC-recommended level saves the most lives and that's what we need here in New York."
Tobacco causes an estimated 25,432 deaths in New York annually and costs the state's economy more than $14 billion in health care costs and lost productivity, a tremendous burden that the state can ill afford.
Although New York receives $2.3 billion in tobacco-related revenue annually, the state invests just 16.3 percent of what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends should be spent on tobacco prevention and cessation programs. The failure of states across the U.S. to invest in policies and programs to reduce tobacco use has resulted in 3 million new youth and young smokers in the United States, according to the Surgeon General's 2012 report. The theme of this year's State of Tobacco Control report is "Follow the Money." The Lung Association is urging state governments to weigh the real costs tobacco use has on public health as well as the state healthcare system
Priorities that need to be addressed to improve New York's State of Tobacco Control grades include:
Increasing annual funding for the state's tobacco control program to $85 million so that it is closer to the $254.3 million recommended by CDC; and
Ensuring that both public and private health plans cover all seven smoking cessation medications recommended by CDC; that individual, group, online and phone counseling is available to all, and that access to treatment is not restricted by limits on duration or the number of quit attempts covered.
"The state of New York leads the way with our comprehensive indoor smokefree laws and the cigarette tax but we're falling further and further behind in funding efforts to keep kids off tobacco and to help smokers quit," said Michael Seilback, vice president of public policy and communications for the American Lung Association of the Northeast. "When Governor Cuomo introduces his Executive Budget next week, we hope to see a real investment in the state's Tobacco Control Program. We also need the newly elected Legislature to take a good look at the terrible toll tobacco is taking on New Yorkers and commit to funding the programs we know can make a difference and save lives."