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Support state Tobacco Control Program

TimesLedger Newspapers

Every year, New Yorkers spend $8.17 billion on smoking-caused health care costs. The state could help trim those costs if only it would invest more fully in the Tobacco Control Program.

New York ranked 21st in spending on its Tobacco Control Program in the Dec. 6 report “Broken Promises to Our Children: The 1998 State Tobacco Settlement 14 Years Later,” from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends investing $254.3 million in the state’s Tobacco Control Program. That is only a small percentage of the revenue New York state will collect in 2013 between the Big Tobacco settlement payments and tobacco taxes: $2.3 billion. Yet only $41.4 million goes to the Tobacco Control Program, which has proven to be successful in getting people to quit smoking.

In addition to the potential savings, funding the Tobacco Control Program would save lives. Each year, 25,400 adults die from smoking. It is projected that 389,000 of the children alive now will die prematurely from smoking-related deaths.

Fully funding the Tobacco Control Program means that more cessation programs could be offered, and there could be more outreach to let people know that help, like the New York State Quitline, is available. Getting the message out about the dangers of smoking also means fewer kids pick up this deadly habit.

Let’s improve New York’s middling ranking when it comes to tobacco control. Ask your legislator to increase funding to the Tobacco Control Program. The health and finances of the state are at stake.

Wendy Mono

Forest Hills

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