Posted by: audreybenenati | November 25, 2009

Tobacco control works; don’t cut it


Syracuse Post-Standard

November 23, 2009

By Stacy A. McNeil

The 2008 Independent Evaluation Report of the New York State Tobacco Control Program in New York is working, and working well. Both youth and adult smoking rates in the state are declining significantly, faster than the rates for the United States as a whole.

Support for the Clean Indoor Air Act is continuing to grow every year, and anti-tobacco attitudes are increasing. Even though our programs are funded at one-third of the funding levels that the Centers for Disease Control recommend for the size of our state, these programs are having an effect. This saves lives and saves us money. Continued program funding cuts will jeopardize the gains we are already seeing.

In 2003, New York’s adult smoking rate was the same as the national average: 21.6 percent. By 2008, New York’s adult smoking rate was reduced to 17 percent, while the national average remained at 20.8 percent.

In 2003, New York’s high school student smoking rate was 20.2 percent, and the national rate was 21.9 percent. By 2008, this smoking rate in New York was reduced to 13.8 percent, while the national average remained at 20 percent.

During that time period there has also been a rise in support for the Clean Indoor Air Act from 65.9 percent to 80.8 percent. More smokers are quitting and utilizing Quitline and Quitsite services. Most of those who do continue to smoke are smoking fewer cigarettes per day, down by an average of 3.5 cigarettes per day.

The tobacco control interventions used in New YorkState, as part of a comprehensive tobacco control program, are built on evidence-based strategies that work. Through the many partnerships and programs that are in place across the state, these strategies are administered in a very cost-effective and strategic manner.

It is a fact that resources invested in tobacco control in New York return much more than it costs us. Well-managed programs like New York’s are a model that can be used to help drive down health care costs across our country.

Cuts in tobacco control funding cost each of us cash out of our own pockets. Let’s continue to fund programs like these that not only save us money, but also the lives of those we love.

Stacy A. McNeil is school tobacco policy coordinator for OCM BOCES in Oswego and CayugaCounties.

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