02 | 07 | 2017

NYS Tobacco Control Program Saves Lives, and Money

Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable disease, disability and death in New York State; 28,200 lives are lost due to tobacco dependence every year.
Julia Cuthbertson
Phone: (203) 500-0900
Albany, NY - New York State (NYS) Tobacco Control Programs (TCP) have been proven to reduce youth smoking and help current smokers quit, which saves lives and millions of state tax dollars. However, higher rates of smoking persist among individuals with less than a high school education (22.4%), income less than $25,000 a year (22.2%) and those with poor mental health (27.2%).
“New York State has taken great lengths to combat the tobacco epidemic, but more work needs to be done to reduce the extraordinarily high smoking rates among disparate populations throughout the state,” said Judy Rightmyer, director, Capital District Tobacco-Free Communities.
That’s the message representatives of NYS TCP and NY Reality Check youth delivered to state lawmakers on Tuesday, February 7th. Annually, the group visits the New York State Capitol to educate lawmakers about the success of established tobacco control programs, and opportunities to further reduce the burden of tobacco addiction on New Yorkers.
Additionally, Governor Cuomo’s Executive Budget proposal  to tax and regulate vapor products used in electronic cigarettes—as well as include these products in the state’s Clean Indoor Air Act— aligns with the U.S. Surgeon General’s recommendations in his recent report, “E-cigarette Use Among Youth and Young Adults,” according to Rightmyer.
New York City has prohibited e-cigarette use in places where combustible cigarette smoking is banned in its Smoke-Free Air Act since 2014.
Brooklyn Team Met with Local Elected Officials
NYC Smoke-Free staff and student advocates from St. Francis College and Brooklyn high schools met with Assistant Speaker Feliz Ortiz, Senator Kevin Parker, Senator Martin Golden, Senator Simcha Felder, Senator Velmanette Montgomery, Senator Roxanne Persaud, Assemblywoman Latrice Walker, Assemblywoman Maritza Davila, and Assemblyman Nick Perry to discuss the importance of comprehensive tobacco control in their districts. Students shared the work that they are doing around tobacco retail density and highlighted the statistic that more than 5,000 Brooklyn high schoolers are currently smokers. 
New York City has been a global leader in the fight against Big Tobacco and has made tremendous progress in preventing tobacco addiction and protecting our communities from dangerous secondhand smoke pollution.  “We must continue to fight for the health of all New Yorkers, especially vulnerable groups that have dramatically higher smoking rates, such as those struggling with mental health, immigrant communities and the LGBT population” said Julia Cuthbertson, Brooklyn community engagement coordinator for NYC Smoke-Free at Public Health Solutions.
The smoking rate among adult New Yorkers did not change over the last year, but has declined significantly since 2002. According to recently released NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene data, 14.3 percent of New York City adults were smokers, with almost one-third of them residing in Brooklyn. The current rate represents a 33 percent decline in smoking from the 2002 prevalence rate. Despite the progress, there are still nearly 950,000 adults smokers in New York City.
NYC Smoke-Free - a program of Public Health Solutions, NYC Smoke-Free works to protect the health of New Yorkers through tobacco control policy, advocacy, and education. Formerly the NYC Coalition for a Smoke-Free City, we partner with community members, legislators, and health advocates to support local efforts to end the devastating tobacco epidemic throughout NYC. We believe every New Yorker has the right to breathe clean, smoke-free air where they live, work and play. Learn more at www.nycsmokefree.org.
Public Health Solutions - As one of the largest public health service nonprofit organizations in New York City, Public Health Solutions improves health among the city’s most vulnerable populations by tackling social, physical, and environmental factors that impact New Yorkers’ ability to thrive. Today PHS serves 200,000+ New Yorkers annually, and we support the work of more than 600 community-based nonprofit organizations. We implement innovative, cost-effective population-based health programs; conduct research providing insight on effective public health interventions; and provide services to government and other nonprofits to address public health issues. Together with our colleagues in the service sector, government, philanthropy and policy organizations, we are thought leaders and cutting-edge public health professionals in New York City and New York State. To learn more, please visit us at www.healthsolutions.org.