Group advocates for more anti-smoking funding

Feb 22, 2024 at 11:54 am by Observer-Review

Tobacco Action Coalition of the Finger Lakes
FINGER LAKES--According to a report on the New York state Tobacco Control Program (TCP), for every $1 invested in tobacco control between 2001 and 2019, the state spent $11 less in healthcare expenditures attributed to smoking. During discussions with Senator Pamela Helming and Assemblyman Brian Manketlow, representatives with the Tobacco Action Coalition of the Finger Lakes (TACFL) addressed local tobacco control program successes and emphasized efforts to address high smoking rates among certain demographic groups.
“Legislative education day in Albany is such a great opportunity to speak face to face with our local elected officials to set the stage for change,” said Lindsay Kremers, TACFL’s community engagement coordinator. “All four of the counties that our program covers have adult smoking rates that are higher than the New York state average so there is always work to be done, and having the support of our state lawmakers is crucial.”
Yates County’s adult smoking rate of 13.2 percent is the lowest adult smoking rate in the region TACFL covers. Ontario County has the second lowest rate of 14.1 percent, and Seneca County’s rate is 19.6 percent, and the highest adult smoking rate in our region is Wayne County with 19.7 percent.
Since the Tobacco Control Program’s inception, the average adult smoking rate dropped by nearly half, from 23.2 percent in 2001 to 12 percent in 2021. The statewide average youth cigarette smoking rate dropped from 27.1 percent in 2000 to 2.1 percent in 2020. However, there is more work to be done. One in five New York state high school students still use tobacco products due mostly to the use of e-cigarettes. And while the overall adult smoking rate is at an all-time low, certain demographic groups smoke at much higher rates. The fact is 30,000 New Yorkers still die every year from smoking and secondhand smoke exposure. And for every person who dies because of smoking, at least 30 people live with a serious smoking-related illness, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Despite the Tobacco Control Program’s demonstrated success and identified unmet needs, the state’s funding for the Tobacco Control Program is just 2 percent ($34.8 million) of its annual tobacco revenue from tobacco product excise tax ($1.03B) and Master Settlement Agreement funds ($764M). Further, the CDC recommends New York state spend $203 million on tobacco control annually; the state spends $34.8 million, just 17 percent of the CDC’s recommendation.  
Within the last six months, TACFL has worked with local businesses in Wayne, Seneca, and Yates counties to establish tobacco-free outdoor policies. TACFL shared the importance of tobacco-free outdoor policies with local policymakers and how it helps reduce second and third-hand smoke effects in the community.
• E-cigarette use, or vaping rate, among NYS high school students declined from a peak of 27.4 percent in 2018 to 18.7 percent in 2022—a 32 percent decline.
• The NYS average adult smoking rate dropped by 15 percent from 14.1 percent in 2017 to 12 percent in 2021.
• Progress has stalled among NYS high school students using tobacco products. Exposure to nicotine in any form during adolescence can lead to addiction, as well as harm the developing brain.
• 1.7 million adult New Yorkers still smoke.
The New York State Smokers’ Quitline is a free and confidential service for all New York residents who wish to overcome the use of commercial tobacco and/or vape products. Visit anytime or text QUITNOW to 333888 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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