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NY gets mixed marks on smoking policies

By Jessica String
Staff writer

Barbara Fischer, from Staten Island, smokes in City Hall Park in New York City. A report by the American Lung Association gives New York a “thumbs up” for having the highest cigarette tax in the nation and praises the state’s strong smoke-free indoor air laws, the state again received “F’s” for inadequately funding its tobacco control program and failing to remove the barriers that prevent New Yorkers from accessing needed smoking cessation services. Photo by AP.
January 22, 2013
New York is getting mixed reviews when it comes to keeping a smoke free New York, according to the 2013 State of Tobacco Control report prepared by the American Lung Association.

The report is based on a grading system that measures health policies in the U.S.

New York received two "A's," one for its abundance of smoke free air in public places and another for its tobacco tax. In fact, New York has the highest tax rate on cigarettes in the nation at over four dollars per pack, according to the report.

Other states such as Massachusetts and Virginia are further ahead in tobacco control, the report shows.

For example, Massachusetts' Medicaid program offers compensation for quitting smokers to ensure their health, while New York does not.

According to information from the American Lung Association, 2,500 New Yorkers die each year from tobacco related illnesses costing the state $14 billion.

The report also showed New York earned two "F's," one for cessation programs and one for tobacco control funding. New York state invests $1.77 per smoker for prevention, while some officials have called for more than $10 dedicated to each smoker.

"The report shows that New York is not doing enough to protect its citizens," said Thomas Carr, director of National Policy for the American Lung Association.

Funding for tobacco control has dropped 50 percent since 2006 despite evidence from the American Lung Association. Their findings show that support for those who desire to quit smoking has proved to be effective and desirable.

American Lung Association officials called for even better air quality in New York and stressed the need for more elected officials to restore funding for tobacco control.

"We lost serious ground in tobacco control which we need to gain," said President and CEO of the Northeastern American Lung Association Jeff Seyler.

Carr said New York needs to tax tobacco "uniformly" in order to offset the picking and choosing of certain brands of tobacco which would "…generate revenue for the state."

Although New York receives $2.3 billion in tobacco-related revenue annually the state invests just 16.3 percent of what the CDC recommends for prevention and cessation, according to the American Lung Association.

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