Among the emergency measures Governor Paterson is proposing to close New York’s budget hole is an additional $10 million cut in the state’s anti-smoking program, bringing funding down to $58 million from $85 million a year ago. According to Russ Sciandra of the Center for a Tobacco Free New York, that’s three times the reduction other state programs are being hit with.
Sciandra, who believes that state funding for advertising and anti-tobacco programs have helped reduce the rate of smoking in New York to a record low 16.8% last year, is also concerned that the budget cuts would hit programs which provide free nicotine patches and quitting support for Medicaid patients. He’s also concerned that the cuts are a false economy for the state, which he says saves millions in decreased healthcare costs as the smoking rate goes down.
Our own Mayor Bloomberg is leaning heavily on government smoking cessation and patch programs in his effort to bring the local smoking rate down to 12% by 2012, but he’s willing to pay for it out of pocket if necessary.