On February 12, the Coalition joined tobacco control leaders from around New York State (NYS) in the State capital, Albany, to educate legislators on the critical public health need to have well funded tobacco control and prevention programs.
Tobacco use continues to inflict a terrible toll on NYC residents, especially many at-risk populations. The working poor and vulnerable populations are disproportionately affected by tobacco use. Tobacco control programs help those who need it most.
That is the message we brought 48 State Senators and Assembly Members, as we educated them about the successful comprehensive approach of the NYS Tobacco Control Program including hard-hitting media, cessation services, and sound public policy that are now in place to reduce the burden caused by tobacco.
The human cost of tobacco use in our communities is staggering and disproportionate. Our education work with youth is creating the first line of defense against tobacco’s industries marketing tactics to recruit youth as replacement smokers. The NYS Tobacco control program has made significant progress, but there is much more work to do. In New York City, 980,000 adults currently smoke. One-third of them will die prematurely if we don’t do more to reduce smoking rates and help smokers quit.
Working across the state, the Tobacco Control Program community partners educate, engage and empower local organizations and community leaders to create healthier, tobacco-free communities by helping to reduce exposure to secondhand smoke in multi-unit housing, providing information about the benefits of smoke-free outdoor air, and striving to reduce youth exposure to tobacco retail marketing.
Chastity Polanco, a 19-year old Washington Heights resident said, “I choose to be smoke-free because I live with a two-pack-a-day smoker (Mom) and I have seen first-hand the health and lifestyle problems that smoking causes. I urge everyone, especially young people, to not start smoking so they don’t have to learn these lessons the hard way, like my Mom and friends.”
Tobacco control programs are a wise investment of New York State dollars because they help prevent illness, save lives, and significantly reduce health care costs.