While the smoking rate in NYC is lower for youth and adults than the national rates, the recently released Mayor’s Management Report shows that the adult smoking rate, currently at 15.5%, has remained essentially unchanged since 2010.
Last week, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced his budget. In previous budgets, successful health awareness and prevention programs were funded as line items in the budget. The Governor’s new proposal lumps the tobacco control program budget into one pool for chronic disease and prevention. That means that we would essentially need to compete with other important and successful health programs for fewer vital resources.
The proposed budget would make the funding of these programs less transparent to taxpayers and ultimately reduce aid. Consolidating budget lines as Cuomo suggests gives the Legislature less power to add or subtract funding under state law.
While we understand that times are tough, we think transparency goes a long way. A budget clearly states an administration’s priorities, and the NYS Tobacco Control Program is no longer a line item on the proposed budget. While we have had tremendous gains in reducing smoking rates, we fear they may stall without a strong commitment to saving dollars and lives.