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National Report: New York Cuts Tobacco Prevention Funding by 31 Percent, Now Ranks 22nd in Protecting Kids From Tobacco

Wednesday, December 9, 2009 Press Release J E 4
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- New York, once a national leader in funding programs to reduce tobacco use, has cut funding for its tobacco prevention and cessation program by 31 percent in the past year.  As a result of the latest cuts enacted just last week, New York has fallen to 22nd in the nation in funding such programs, according to a national report released today by a coalition of public health organizations.  Health advocates say New York's progress in reducing smoking is at risk unless state leaders restore funding.

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After the latest cuts, New York this year has budgeted a total of $57 million for programs to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit, including $55.2 million in state funds and the rest in a federal grant.  This amounts to just 22.4 percent of the $254.3 million recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Last year, New York spent $81.9 million, or 32.2 percent of CDC-recommended levels, and ranked 19th.  In previous years, New York has ranked as high as 5th in the nation.

Other key findings for New York include:

  • In the past year, New York has cut state funding for its tobacco prevention program by 31 percent, from $80.4 to $55.2.  This $25.2 million cut is the largest of any state.  Governor David Paterson proposed and the Legislature enacted the latest round of cuts just last week.
  • New York this year will collect $2.13 billion from the 1998 tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend just 2.6 percent of it on tobacco prevention programs.
  • The tobacco companies spend $429.6 million a year to market their products in New York. This is more than 7 times what the state spends on tobacco prevention.

The annual report on states' funding of tobacco prevention programs, titled "A Broken Promise to Our Children: The 1998 State Tobacco Settlement 11 Years Later," was released by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Lung Association and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

New York has been a national leader in fighting tobacco use with a well-funded Tobacco Control Program, a strong smoke-free workplace law and a high cigarette tax of $2.75 per pack.  As a result, New York has reduced its adult smoking rate to 16.8 percent and its high school smoking rate to 13.8 percent, both well below the national rates of 20.6 percent and 20 percent.  However, the huge cut in funding for tobacco prevention programs has put the state's progress at risk.

"New York has led the nation in fighting tobacco use, but the state this year has taken a big step backward and decimated funding for tobacco prevention," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.  "Unless Governor Patterson and the Legislature act quickly to restore funding, New York will pay a high price in lives and dollars.  Even in these difficult budget times, tobacco prevention is a smart investment that reduces smoking, saves lives and saves money by reducing tobacco-related health care costs."

Despite the state's progress, 20,900 New York kids become regular smokers every year. Each year in New York, tobacco claims 25,400 lives and costs the state $8.2 billion in health care bills.

Eleven years after the 1998 state tobacco settlement, the new report finds that the states this year are collecting record amounts of revenue from the tobacco industry, but are spending less of it on tobacco prevention. Key national findings of the report include:

  • The states this year will collect $25.1 billion from the tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend just 2.3 percent of it – $567.5 million – on tobacco prevention programs.  It would take less than 15 percent of their tobacco revenue to fund tobacco prevention programs in every state at CDC-recommended levels.
  • In the past year, states have cut funding for tobacco prevention programs by more than 15 percent, or $103.4 million.
  • Only one state – North Dakota – currently funds a tobacco prevention program at the CDC-recommended level.
  • Only nine other states fund prevention programs at even half the CDC-recommended amount, while 31 states and DC are providing less than a quarter of the recommended funding.

The report warns that the nation's progress in reducing smoking is at risk unless states increase funding for programs to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit.  The United States has significantly reduced smoking among both youth and adults, but the CDC's most recent survey showed that smoking declines among adults have stalled.

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the U.S., killing more than 400,000 people and costing $96 billion in health care bills each year.  Every day, another 1,000 kids become regular smokers – one-third of them will die prematurely as a result.

More information, including the full report and state-specific information, can be obtained at www.tobaccofreekids.org/reports/settlements.

SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

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