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Cancer Society Condems Cuts to NYS Quitline and Tobacco Control Program | Health

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Cancer Society Condems Cuts to NYS Quitline and Tobacco Control Program
Health
Cancer Society Condems Cuts to NYS Quitline and Tobacco Control Program

Buffalo, NY - (March 29, 2011) The American Cancer Society is fuming over massive cuts coming to the New York State Tobacco Control Program (TCP).

Late this afternoon the Society learned that $17 million dollars in cuts have been approved by the NYS Department of Budget. The TCP, which funds the Buffalo based New York State Smokers Quitline, provides free resources for people looking to quit smoking. In addition the TCP helps educate kids on the dangers of a tobacco addiction and operates community based coalitions to reduce the impact of tobacco on the state (including the Erie Niagara Tobacco Free Coalition).

American Cancer Society officials are putting the blame for the cuts squarely on members of the New York State Assembly.

“It’s a good day to be a tobacco lobbyist in Albany," said Donald Distasio, Chief Executive Officer of the American Cancer Society for New York and New Jersey.  "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 began in 2008.  Funding for the program has now been reduced by more than 50 percent since that time.  Society officials note no other state program has had to sustain those types of cuts.

"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," added Distasio.

The Society warned that, based on recent history, smoking rates will likely increase as a result of the move.  In turn this will likely lead to much higher long-term healthcare costs for taxpayers.

Volunteers from the American Cancer Society have been mobilized in efforts to save the program over the past two weeks. Assembly members originally voted to eliminate the program entirely in the budget this year. 

"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, but shame on lawmakers for putting the interests of tobacco lobbyists ahead of New Yorkers," concluded Distasio.

Additional Resources:
ACS CAN's page on the Tobacco Control Program
New York State Tobacco Control Program
New York State Smokers' Quitline

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