For every $1 invested in tobacco control, New York State saves $11

Onondaga County tobacco control representatives meet with lawmakers to discuss NYS’s Tobacco Control Program

ONONDAGA COUNTY, FEBRUARY 12, 2024 – On February 6th, Reality Check youth from the Institute of Technology at Syracuse Central, along with Onondaga County Health Department’s Tobacco-Free CNY staff and Tobacco Control Program partners from around the state traveled to the State Capitol for Legislative Education Day. Reality Check youth met with Assemblywoman Pamela Hunter and staffers from Senator Rachel May and Senator John Mannion’s offices. During each meeting, they discussed local tobacco control program successes and emphasized efforts to address high smoking rates among certain demographic groups.

ITC student Miranda Azemi believed it was a great experience. “My favorite part about our Albany trip was the connection we were able to make with the legislators; tobacco has had a direct or indirect impact in all of our lives through many generations. I specifically appreciated the feedback and advice Assemblywoman Pamela Hunter provided regarding the prevention of future tobacco-use in our communities.”

Since the Tobacco Control Program’s inception, the average adult smoking rate dropped by nearly half, from 23.2% in 2001 to 12% in 2021. The statewide average youth cigarette smoking rate dropped from 27.1% in 2000 to 2.1% in 2020. However, there is more work to be done. One in five New York State high school students still use tobacco products due mostly to the use of e-cigarettes. And while the overall adult smoking rate is at an all-time low, certain demographic groups smoke at much higher rates. The fact is 30,000 New Yorkers still die every year from smoking and secondhand smoke exposure. And for every person who dies because of smoking, at least 30 people live with a serious smoking-related illness, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Despite the Tobacco Control Program’s demonstrated success and identified unmet needs, the state’s funding for the Tobacco Control Program is just 2% of its annual tobacco revenue from tobacco product excise tax ($1.03B) and Master Settlement Agreement funds ($764M). Further, the CDC recommends New York State spend $203 million on tobacco control annually; the state spends $34.8 million, just 17% of CDC’s recommendation. According to a report on the New York State (NYS) Tobacco Control Program (TCP), for every $1 invested in tobacco control, New York saves $11.  Data shows for every $1 NYS spent on the TCP between 2001 and 2019, the state spent $11 less in healthcare expenditures attributed to smoking.

Members of Tobacco-Free CNY and Reality Check shared recent successes with state lawmakers.

  • E-cigarette use, or vaping rate, among NYS high school students declined from a peak of 27.4% in 2018 to 18.7% in 2022—a 32% decline.
  • The NYS average adult smoking rate dropped by 15% from 14.1% in 2017 to 12% in 2021.

Youth also highlighted areas of unmet needs.

  • 20.8% of NYS high school students still use tobacco products—primarily e-cigarettes at 18.7%.
  • Smoking rates among certain demographic groups in New York State hover around 65% higher than the statewide adult average. These include adults:
      • living with a disability at 17.4%,
      • enrolled in Medicaid at 19.1%,
      • with less than a high school education at 19.2%,
      • reporting frequent mental distress at 19.7%, and
      • with an annual household income under $25,000 at 20.0%.

The tobacco control representatives stressed the human cost of continued tobacco use.

Flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes and cigars, pose significant risk.
More than 80% of young people who ever used tobacco started with a flavored tobacco product.  In New York State, menthol cigarettes are used by over half of all adult smokers (52%), while 86% of Black and 72% of Hispanic smokers exclusively smoke menthol cigarettes.

Support is available for New Yorkers who want to quit smoking and vaping.
Talk to your health care provider today! Tobacco-free living increases the potential for better health outcomes and reduced health care costs. When health care professionals treat nicotine addiction with medication and counseling, it can double or even triple their patients’ chances of success.

The New York State Smokers’ Quitline is a free and confidential service for all New York State residents who wish to overcome use of commercial tobacco and/or vape products. Participants can receive individualized coaching and assistance with quit planning from highly trained tobacco treatment specialists, text and online chat support, and a free starter supply of nicotine replacement therapy medications such as patches, gum and/or lozenges for those 18 and older. Residents of all ages may contact the Quitline for support and educational materials. Visit anytime or text QUITNOW to 333888 for more information, or call 1-866-NY-QUITS (1-866-697-8487) seven days a week, beginning at 9 a.m.