New York’s recently approved budget for fiscal year 2023-24 includes several measures that will impact the sale and use of tobacco products statewide, marking a significant milestone for North Country organizations working to reduce smoking rates and help people quit.
According to leaders of North Country Nicotine Consultants, among the most impactful measures adopted by the state in this year’s budget is a $1 tax increase on cigarettes and small cigars, a move that will lead to reduced tobacco consumption. The budget also includes a $7.5 million increase to the state’s Tobacco Control Program as well as codified language surrounding the attorney general’s recent settlement with JUUL.
North Country Nicotine Consultants (NCNC) is a collaboration of The Heart Network and Glens Falls Hospital that provides resources and consultation to health care providers to help increase delivery of comprehensive, evidence-based treatment for nicotine addiction.
“There’s irrefutable data that shows higher taxes on nicotine products results in fewer people smoking,” said Arriana Patraw, program coordinator at The Heart Network. “Increasing taxes on cigarettes makes purchasing these products more difficult, especially for our youth. At the same time, the increased tax revenue from tobacco sales is directed toward public health and tobacco prevention programs. The most recent research from the American Lung Association notes that for every 10 percent increase in the price of cigarettes, the smoking rate among adults and kids drops by about 4 to 7 percent.”
“Smoking is the number one cause of preventable death in our country and a major strain on healthcare systems,” said Riley Brennan, Health Promotion Center program coordinator at Glens Falls Hospital. “In fact, smoking-related health problems account for some $12 billion in healthcare costs annually in New York State alone. For organizations like ours and The Heart Network — and many others that are dedicated to helping people quit smoking and get healthy — proactive measures like tax increases not only provide us with more resources but also deter folks from smoking before they even start. In short, we all benefit from any steps that help reduce tobacco use.”
A reduction in tobacco use can correlate to an increased demand for cessation services and products. North Country Nicotine Consultants works with healthcare providers to help deliver such services directly to patients, and can help individuals find resources in their community.
“We say it a lot, but it bears repeating: talk to your healthcare provider if you’re trying to quit,” Brennan said. “Even a short conversation with your doctor can double your chances of quitting successfully. They can connect you to behavioral counseling and pharmacotherapy and a myriad of other techniques. You don’t have to do it alone.”
To learn more about North Country Nicotine Consultants, visit heartnetwork.org/ncnc. To learn about tobacco cessation services in the northern Adirondacks and Clinton and Franklin counties, contact Arriana Patraw at firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn about resources in the southern Adirondacks and Warren and Washington counties, contact Riley Brennan at email@example.com.