Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. The “American Lung Association: State of Tobacco Control Report 2014” has handed New York mixed grades.
This year’s report recognizes the 50th anniversary of the first Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health, in 1964, which catalyzed the nation to end the tobacco epidemic. Since then, efforts to reduce smoking have saved 8 million lives, but smoking has killed 18 million Americans in the same time span, according to a study published recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Jeff Seyler is President and CEO of the American Lung Association of the Northeast. "In this year's State of Tobacco Control Report, New York received an A for our smoke free air and an A for our cigarette tax, but what continues to cause us the most concerned and what thwarts our overall efforts to save lives is the F grades New York received for tobacco control funding and for cessation... taken together these grades illustrate that New York has not made the significant progress needed to save lives and reduce healthcare costs. "
Forty states and Washington D.C. received F grades for funding anti-smoking efforts at less than half the amount recommended by the Center for Disease Control. New York spends less than $42 million — about 16 percent of the recommended amount.
Vince Willmore is vice-president for communications at the Campaign for Tobacco-free kids. He says Massachusetts and New York lost ground in 2013 as funding was cut for programs to stop kids from smoking."Massachusetts is only providing 4 million dollars for tobacco-prevention programs and that's just about 4 per cent of what's needed. In the last few years New York has cut funding for tobacco prevention by more than half"
Seyler says New York exceeds other states when it comes to tobacco taxation and indoor smoke-free air laws. "We have the highest cigaret tax in the nation, at $4.35 per pack. This is important because higher taxes mean higher prices, and this discourages smoking, especially among price-sensitive youth populations."
New York's adult and high-school smoking rates come in 16.2 and 11.9 percent lower than the national average, respectively. Seyler attributes those numbers to the high price of cigarettes. On the downside, the report found New York cut $2 million of preventative measures and smoking cessation funding in 2013.
25,000 New Yorkers will die this year from smoking related illnesses. American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network California's Lori Bremner says those whose health has been damaged by tobacco use may benefit from the dramatic and historic shift in the health care industry. "Whether your conditions come from tobacco use or from other lifestyle choices someone's made, it's still a pre-existing condition which can no longer be considered in the Affordable Care Act for increased premiums or denial of coverage. Some states are allowing a higher premium for current tobacco users."
Nationwide, almost more than 2 million people have signed up for the ACA, also known as Obamacare. New York, Vermont and Massachusetts are among seven states that along with Washington, D.C., will NOT charge smokers higher insurance premiums.
About the American Lung Association of the Northeast
The American Lung Association of the Northeast is part of the American Lung Association, the oldest voluntary health organization in the U.S. Established in 1904 to combat tuberculosis; our mission today is to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. The focus is on air quality, asthma, tobacco control, and all lung disease. The American Lung Association in the Northeast serves CT, MA, ME, NH, NY, RI and VT. www.LungNE.org