The Dec. 27 Gazette editorial, “How far for smoking prevention?” recognizes the significant successes of New York’s tobacco control program in dramatically reducing the adult smoking rate and the youth initiation rate.
What the editorial fails to consider is the effectiveness of current tobacco control funding in the face of tobacco industry spending.
Currently, New York state tobacco control funding is only 16 percent of the $254 million recommended by the Centers for Disease Control to sustain a comprehensive evidence-based program to prevent youth initiation and help adult smokers quit. For every $5 the tobacco industry currently spends to recruit new smokers and keep existing ones, the state spends less than $1 trying to undermine its efforts. It’s a hard-fought battle and the battle is far from over.
The tobacco industry spends nearly its entire marketing budget on tobacco displays and promotions in stores — marketing designed to recruit new smokers, 90 percent of whom are under age 18.
And as important as individual motivations to quit are, the ability of smokers to quit and quit successfully is greatly enhanced when the community supports their tobacco-free choices. This means decreasing the availability and accessibility of tobacco products, reducing the reach of tobacco marketing, and expanding the availability of tobacco-free public spaces, work sites, and housing.
To rest on our laurels now would be to surrender to the tobacco industry whose pockets run deep and whose survival depends on recruiting new smokers. They won’t stop spending to achieve their goals, and neither should the state of New York.
Theresa Zubretsky, Troy
The writer is a program coordinator for the Capital District Tobacco-Free Coalition.