To the Editor:
(Oneida, NY – Feb. 2013) Over the past six years, New York has raised $10.6 billion in tobacco revenues. Less than 4 percent of those funds have been used for tobacco control programs. For the past three years, funding has been cut for the tobacco control programs in New York State.
Helping individuals quit smoking and preventing them from starting to smoke is crucial. The toll that tobacco use takes on New York State is devastating. In 2009, 25,400 lives were lost due to tobacco use. Tobacco use costs New Yorkers an estimated $8.17 billion in health care costs, including $2.7 billion in Medicaid costs.
It is crucial that funding for tobacco control programs continues. The programs have been proven to reduce youth smoking and help current smokers to quit. Limited funding prevents the tobacco control program from reaching the most vulnerable populations that have the highest rate of smoking.
There are numerous things that tobacco control programs could do with more resources. Additional resources for adult cessation would be helpful. With additional resources, the program could increase their work with disadvantaged urban neighborhoods and rural areas. Lastly, the funding could assist the program in developing and implementing strategies for reaching those with mental illness or addictive disorders. The mentally ill smoke at twice the rate of the general public.
Tobacco control programs save lives and save money.
Marianne Simberg, Oneida