Springville Journal

Tobacco Free Erie and Niagara meets with legislators at Capitol to discuss tobacco-control successes and needs

Overall tobacco use in New York state is down, but high rates of smoking among certain communities and vaping among youth persist. Funding for the NYS Tobacco Control program is just 1.6% of the state’s annual tobacco revenue. 

Students meet with the office of Assemblyperson Angelo Morinello to focus on improving the health of today’s youth.

Adult and youth leaders of Tobacco-Free Erie and Niagara, a project of Cicatelli and Associates, funded by the New York State Tobacco Control Program, recently met with Senator Robert Ortt and members of the Assembly, Karen McMahon and Angelo Morinello at the state capitol in Albany to discuss efforts to reduce New Yorkers’ tobacco use and smoking-related deaths and disease. They shared details of tobacco-control progress and areas of continued need, since more than 28,200 adult New Yorkers still die every year from smoking. They also stressed that funding for the state’s Tobacco Control Program is just 1.6% of the state’s annual tobacco revenue. 

The NYS TCP continues to make immense progress in reducing smoking. The average adult smoking rate in New York state is now 12%, or 1.7 million adult New Yorkers smoke, down from more than 23% in 2001, and the youth smoking rate is down to 2.4% from 27.1% in 2000. However, in addition to the more than 28,200 adult New Yorkers who still die every year from smoking, another 750,000 suffer with smoking-related illness. Despite the reduced cigarette smoking rate, 280,000 New York youth currently under the age of 18 will die prematurely from smoking. And vaping, or e-cigarette use, is still dangerously high. Nearly one in four high-school-age youth in New York state vape or use e-cigarettes, the most used tobacco product among youth.

Morinello said, “It was a pleasure to have Reality Check visit my Albany office. I appreciate that your generation is focusing on solutions to improve the health of our younger generations.” 

CAI Director of Tobacco Free Erie and Niagara Stan Martin said, “This is a great opportunity for our youth who live in communities with some of the greatest needs, to speak truth to power, and have a positive impact on their community for generations to come.”

The NYS TCP promotes an environment open to change

New York state passed several landmark tobacco control laws in 2020, ending the sale of flavored vape products – including menthol vapes – and the sale of tobacco products in pharmacies statewide, prohibiting tobacco coupons and other discounts and restricting the exterior display of tobacco product ads near schools. Over the past five years, tobacco control partners have assisted public, affordable and market-rate multi-unit property owners transition over 44,000 multi-unit housing units to be free of tobacco smoke for the health and safety of their residents. Also, during that time, Health Systems for a Tobacco-Free New York assisted 163 medical health care organizations and 152 mental health care organizations in implementing processes that ensure every patient is screened and treated for tobacco dependence during their appointment.

Student and Amanda Hucksoll, Program Manager of Reality Check for Erie & Niagara County, talk with an advocate from the American Heart Association during their recent visit to the capital to discuss tobacco-control successes and needs.

Smoking rates remain high among certain demographic groups; more work is needed to save New Yorkers’ lives and improve their health

NYS TCP’s policy-driven, cost-effective and evidence-based approaches contributed to a substantial decline in tobacco use. These approaches are now further focused on communities and populations with high tobacco use rates. Throughout New York state, smoking rates remain high among:

– Adults who report frequent mental distress at 19.7%, 

– Adults with less than a high school education, at 19%,

– Adults with an annual household income of less than $25,000, at 20%, 

– Adults enrolled in Medicaid, at 22.9%, and

– Adults living with a disability, at 17.4%.

Learn more about the human cost of tobacco use at www.tobaccofreenys.org.

New York state tobacco revenue vs. tobacco funding 

To combat the deadly impact of smoking, the CDC recommends a $203 million annual investment in New York State’s Tobacco Control Program. The state’s investment is $39 million, just 1.6% of the state’s annual tobacco revenue of $2.36 billion. Further, New York state residents’ annual state and federal tax burden from smoking-caused government expenditures is $1,528 per household.

New York state’s tobacco revenue is a combination of the annual Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) payment of $737.7 million and collection of tobacco excise taxes of $1.63 billion. Under the 1998 MSA, tobacco manufacturers are obligated to pay billions of dollars annually to 46 states, five U.S. territories and the District of Columbia in perpetuity as compensation for taxpayer money that had been spent on tobacco-related diseases and loss to local economies.  Learn more about the economic reality of tobacco use at www.tobaccofreenys.org.

Flavored products, including menthol cigarettes, pose significant risk 

For decades, the tobacco industry has used menthol and other sweet, fruity and candy flavors in tobacco products to make them taste better and less harsh on the throat, making them more appealing to youth. Tobacco companies also have heavily marketed menthol cigarettes to the African American and LGBTQIA+ communities, making it more likely that African American and LGBTQIA+ smokers will suffer from smoking-related diseases and death. The reason is simple: menthol makes it easier to start smoking and harder to quit. 

Support is available for New Yorkers who want to quit

The New York State Smokers’ Quitline is a confidential service for all New York state residents who wish to overcome tobacco use, including e-cigarettes. Free offerings include individualized coaching and assistance with quit-planning from highly trained tobacco treatment specialists, text and online chat support and free shipping of stop-smoking medications such as nicotine patches, nicotine lozenges or nicotine gum for those 18 and older. Residents of all ages may contact the Quitline for support and educational materials. In addition, the Quitline encourages teens and young adults (ages 13-24) to text “DROPTHEVAPE” to 88709 to join “This Is Quitting,” a free texting support program for help with quitting vaping. Visit www.nysmokefree.com for more information or call 1-866-NY-QUITS (1-866-697-8487) seven days a week, beginning at 9 a.m.

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