Fighting Tobacco

Tobacco companies are still making a killing off New Yorkers.  While we have made substantial progress, the fact remains that smoking is still the leading cause of preventable death in New York.  Each year more than 480,000 people in the United States die from illnesses related to tobacco use. This means each year smoking causes about 1 out of 5 deaths in the US. We can change these grim statistics. 

Smoking not only causes cancer. It can damage nearly every organ in the body, including the lungs, heart, blood vessels, reproductive organs, mouth, skin, eyes, and bones.

Smoking accounts for about 30% of all cancer deaths in the United States, including about 80% of all lung cancer deaths. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in both men and women, and is one of the hardest cancers to treat.

Smoking and tobacco take a toll on New Yorkers…

  • Over 28,000 New Yorkers a year die from tobacco-caused illnesses.
  • Over 10.600 New York kids become new smokers each year.  
  • The annual health care costs in New York directly caused by smoking are $10.39 billion
  • The use of e-cigarettes by kids is rising rapidly. E-cigarette use among kids tripled in just one year
  • Kids aren’t substituting e-cigarettes for cigarettes.  In fact, more than half of high school students who smoke cigarettes also use e-cigarettes.
  • E-cigarette use among high school students (10.5%) is nearly twice that of adults over the age of 25. (5.7%).

New York State Advocacy Initiatives:
While New York has made tremendous strides in reducing smoking rates, in recent years, the state has begun to lose its national leadership role in tobacco control. 

  • The New York State Tobacco Control Program:  The state’s Tobacco Control Program helps New Yorkers quit smoking and keeps kids from beginning this deadly addiction. Yet despite our successes, the program is woefully underfunded – meaning many communities across the state are still seeing an overwhelming level of death and disease from smoking.   The populations that need our help the most, including those with lower education and income, and individuals with mental health and substance abuse issues have significantly higher smoking rates – and some even double the statewide smoking rate.  New York needs to step-up efforts to reach smokers rather than reduce its efforts.
  • The Evidence: Tobacco 21 could significantly reduce smoking rates. Did you know approximately 95 percent of smokers started smoking before the age of 21?  That’s right…smokers start as children.  What if we could stop tobacco companies from recruiting kids as news as smokers? A recent Institute of Medicine report, The Public Health Implications of Raising the Minimum Age of Legal Access to Tobacco Products, reviewed existing literature and predicts that raising the national minimum age for the sale of tobacco products to 21 will likely lead to a 12 percent reduction in smoking prevalence.
  • Close the e-cigarette Loophole: New Yorkers should not have to risk their health to go to work, shop or go to a restaurant. That was the reasoning behind New York’s Clean Indoor Air Law that prohibited smoking in all public places in New York State. The health of New Yorkers could now again be at risk when they are forced to work, shop or eat near someone using an e-cigarette.  Why is that?  E-cigarettes simply didn’t exist when the state passed the Clean Indoor Air Act and therefore aren’t included in the law.  Now it is it time to close this loophole and have e- cigarettes included in the New York’s Clean Indoor Air Law.

New York City Advocacy Initiatives
While New York City has made tremendous strides in reducing smoking rates, in recent years, the state has begun to lose its national leadership role in tobacco control. 

  • Increase Tobacco Control Program Funding: ACS CAN seeks an increase of at least $2 million in FY 2017-18 from the Administration for the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to address tobacco use by New Yorkers with the highest rates of tobacco use based on factors related to income, education and mental health.  These New Yorkers are at a greater risk for tobacco use therefore at a greater risk for lung cancer, heart disease, diabetes, stroke and other deadly health conditions. This increase would bring the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene budget for tobacco control and cessation up to $9.2 million in FY 2017-18.
  • Retail License Reduction: ACS CAN supports policies that will reduce the availability of tobacco products citywide. We will advocate to establish a cap on the number tobacco retail licenses available in a community; set a minimum distance between tobacco retailers and schools, other youth service entities and from other licensed tobacco retailers; and restrict sales in pharmacies and other health service entities. 
  • Establish Tax on All Tobacco Products: ACS CAN supports establishing a tax on all non-cigarette tobacco products that are currently untaxed. The tax should be equivalent to the current tax on cigarettes. 
  • Smoke-free Housing: We will advocate for restrictions on smoking in all areas of multiple dwellings owned and operated by New York City and in all areas of city-financed housing.