Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — As part of an initiative to combat tobacco use, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced plans to award $9 million to local organizations that will work to make New York a tobacco-free state.
The awards will be made through New York State Department of Health’s Bureau of Tobacco Control, which is seeking applications from community organizations. Total funding for the Advancing Tobacco Free Communities initiative is expected to be $9.4 million, dispersed over five years.
“Tobacco addiction is still the leading preventable cause of morbidity and mortality in New York state as well as the United States,” said state Health Commissioner Dr. Nirav R. Shah. “If we can work together to create a tobacco-free state, we can significantly lessen the impact of tobacco on the lives of all New Yorkers.”
Every year, approximately 25,000 people die prematurely because of cigarette use. Nearly 570,000 New Yorkers have serious diseases directly attributable to smoking, including lung and oral cancers, heart disease, stroke and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Smoking is a major cause of multiple cancers, heart disease and stroke, and is the leading cause of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
Each year in New York state, $8.17 billion in medical costs are attributed to tobacco and smoking. Those financial costs increase when health care expenditures caused by exposure to secondhand smoke, smokeless tobacco use, cigar and pipe smoking, smoking-related fires, and lost productivity costs are included.
“We have made a lot of progress in making our state healthier by reducing smoking but there is more we can do to make New York smoke free,” Cuomo said. “Through these awards, we are using community-based strategies to combat tobacco use and promote chronic disease prevention. This funding will support the prevention and reduction of smoking helping New Yorkers be healthier and live longer.”
The State Department of Health plans to develop a statewide network of contractors, who will combine community engagement efforts with youth advocacy under the brand name Reality Check. As part of the program, Reality Check will engage a core group of youths aged 13-18 in action-oriented activities and teach them the leadership skills needed to engage in policy-related tobacco control work.
Contractors will also be required to engage and educate community stakeholders, leaders, organizations and the general public on ways to strengthen tobacco-related policies that prevent and reduce tobacco use, reduce youth exposure to harmful tobacco marketing in retail settings, limit exposure to secondhand smoke, and reduce smoking imagery in the media.