NY to Big Tobacco “We’ll Help You Get New Customers”

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Statement from Donald Distasio, CEO, American Cancer Society of NY & NJ, regarding slashing of the NYS Tobacco Control Program in the 2011-12 budget agreement.

“It’s a good day to be a tobacco lobbyist in Albany.  Big cuts demanded by the Assembly to the New York State Tobacco Control Program (TCP) mean current smokers will stay hooked and a new generation of customers – our kids – are on their way to a lifetime of addiction.  In essence, the state will help these businesses grow their customer base. What a disgraceful outrage.

The Assembly's slow dismantling of the TCP, which it began in 2008, continues.  With this new cut, funding for the program has been reduced more than 50 percent.  No other state program has had to sustain that kind of laceration of resources.  What makes the TCP different?  A powerful, wealthy lobby against it that convinces lawmakers the program is a piggy bank that can be smashed when cash is needed to satisfy important constituencies.

By cutting the TCP, New Yorkers will see more death, suffering and misery from tobacco, not to mention much higher long-term healthcare costs for taxpayers.  Each day, the program helps people quit smoking by providing counseling and free nicotine replacement therapy.  It keeps kids from ever starting to smoke through community-based interventions. The TCP more than pays for itself – basically preventing illness, saving lives and reducing healthcare costs – especially in New York’s most vulnerable communities.  

The efforts of American Cancer Society volunteers who called their legislators certainly made a difference and kept this program from being virtually eliminated, as originally proposed by the Assembly.  A special thank you to them for taking the time to try and protect this valuable program.

Shame on lawmakers for putting the interests of tobacco lobbyists ahead of New Yorkers.”

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About the American Cancer Society
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