Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Breathing Group in a Huff Over Tobacco Money

A proposed $17 million cut in the state's tobacco control program was decried on Tuesday by the American Lung Association in New York, which says the reduction will impair the program's ability to protect kids and help people quit smoking.
This cut represents reduced pain compared to the $52 million slashing proposed by the Assembly. This would have brought the total funding for tobacco control from $58 million to $6 million, which environmental and health advocates said wouldn't be enough to run any programs.
"This action is ultimately going to hurt people who want to quit smoking, the people who love them, and the state of New York," said Irwin Berlin, MD, board chair of the American Lung Association in New York. "More than 25,000 New Yorkers die from smoking each year and yet they are cutting a program that works to reduce that number while improving overall public health and reducing health care costs? This is penny-wise and pound-foolish. It's a destructive move that, in the long run, does nothing to improve the state's fiscal condition."
The Lung Association estimated that the economic costs of smoking is more than $14 billion a year, with the potential to increase in the future as 24,000 New York kids under age 18 become regular daily smokers.
Berlin added, "Just a few months ago, the Lung Association released its State of Tobacco Control Report which gave New York an "F" for the level of funding it commits to tobacco prevention and control."
The $17 million represents about a 29 percent reduction since last year, with the newest cut leading to an almost 50 percent reduction in funding since funding peaked at around $80 million in 2007.
(Editor's Note: There has not been a formal announcement about the tobacco control funding, as the subcommittee report on Health has not been announced and the budget bill dealing with health hasn't been printed.)
(Editor's Note Update: According to the American Lung Association of New York: Lung Association: NY FightForAirNY "FYI: Division of budget spokesman Morris Peters stated the $17m # on-the-record")

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