More Than 28,000 Adult New Yorkers Still Die Every Year from Smoking
Funding for the NYS Tobacco Control program is just 1.6% of the state’s annual tobacco revenue
SYRACUSE, N.Y.— (January 31, 2023) The Regional Center for Tobacco Health Systems at St. Joseph’s Health is meeting with local legislators to stress the importance of its programs and highlight the discrepancy between CDC recommendations and actual funding. Since 2009, state budget cuts have slashed tobacco control funding by more than half. Representatives from the CNY Regional Center for Tobacco Health Systems recently met with NYS Assemblyperson Scott Gray (R-Watertown) to discuss the success of their efforts at helping lower statewide smoking rates. They also stressed the unmet needs in tobacco control efforts among certain communities and populations.
“While the rates of cigarette smoking have declined over the past several decades, the gains have been inconsistent and some groups smoke more heavily or at higher rates and suffer disproportionately from smoking-related cancer and other diseases,” said Kristen Richardson, Director CNY Regional Center for Tobacco Health Systems. “These populations tend to be those who experience inequities in multiple areas of their lives, including those at lower socioeconomic levels, those without college degrees, American Indians/Alaska natives, African American/Black communities, LGBTQIA+ communities, those in the military, those with a disability, and those with behavioral health conditions.”
Tobacco companies heavily market menthol cigarettes to the African American and LGBTQIA+ communities, making it more likely that African American and LGBTQIA+ smokers will suffer from smoking-related diseases and death. The reason is simple: menthol makes it easier to start smoking and harder to quit.
Although tobacco control efforts are making immense progress, 1.7 million New Yorkers smoke. More than 28,000 adult New Yorkers still die every year from smoking and another 750,000 suffer with smoking-related illness. Vaping among young people is still dangerously high.
“Nearly one in four high school-age youth in our state vape or use e-cigarettes,” said Richardson. “And, despite the decline in smoking rates, 280,000 youth in New York will end up dying prematurely from smoking.”
Richardson and other leaders will meet with State Senators and Assemblypersons at the state Capitol in Albany on February 7, 2023, to discuss efforts to reduce New Yorkers’ tobacco use and smoking-related deaths and disease. To combat the deadly impact of smoking, the CDC recommends a $203 million annual investment in New York State’s Tobacco Control Program. The state’s investment is $39 million, just 1.6% of the state’s annual tobacco revenue of $2.36 billion.
The team at Central New York Regional Center for Tobacco Health Systems works with medical and behavioral health systems throughout the area to establish policies to screen for and treat tobacco dependence. It provides trainings on evidence-based strategies for treating tobacco use and dependence, training clinicians and healthcare staff on addiction, emerging products (like electronic cigarettes), cessation medications, how to help patients make a quit plan, and resources.
The NYS Smokers’ Quitline offers free individualized coaching and assistance, text and online chat support and free shipping of stop-smoking medications such as nicotine patches, nicotine lozenges or nicotine gum for those 18 and older. Residents of all ages may contact the Quitline for support and educational materials. In addition, the Quitline encourages teens and young adults (ages 13-24) to text “DROPTHEVAPE” to 88709 to join “This Is Quitting,” a free texting support program for help with quitting vaping. Visit nysmokefree.com anytime for more information or call 1-866-NY-QUITS (1-866-697-8487) seven days a week, beginning at 9 a.m.