Commissioner Novello: New York's Youth Anti-Smoking Programs Rank in Top 5 Nationally

National Report Ranks New York 5th In Protecting Kids From Tobacco

ALBANY, NY, December 6, 2006 - New York State Heath Commissioner Antonia C. Novello, M.D., M.P.H., Dr.P.H. announced today that the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids ranks New York State fifth in the nation in funding programs to protect children from tobacco. The Campaign's annual report on states' funding of tobacco prevention programs cited New York as the most improved state, according to a national report released today by a coalition of public health organizations.

"When it comes to smoking, we must send the clear message to our youth: if you smoke, then stop," Dr. Novello said. "As a former U.S. Surgeon General, I took the lead by ensuring that the message got out that cigarette smoking kills. People who can stop or never start smoking significantly increase their likelihood of living healthier, longer and more productive lives. This report underscores the fact that under Governor George E. Pataki's leadership, New York State has done more to prevent teen-smoking than under any other Governor in New York State history."

The report lauded New York State as the most improved state because Governor Pataki and the Legislature almost doubled the State's funding for tobacco prevention initiatives. New York currently directs $85.5 million annually to tobacco prevention.

The report noted that New York reduced smoking by 49% among high school students between 1999 and 2005 and by 15% among adults between 2001 and 2004. The report found that there is more evidence than ever that tobacco prevention programs work to reduce smoking, save lives, and save money by reducing smoking-caused health costs. Last year, New York ranked 18th and spent $43.4 million on tobacco prevention.

New York has one of the most comprehensive anti-smoking programs in the nation including: the Clean Indoor Air Act, effective anti-smoking advertising, fire-safe cigarettes and efforts aimed at keeping tobacco products out of the hands of children. Additionally, Medicaid covers over-the-counter smoking cessation products, including nicotine patches and gum, and prescription anti-smoking medications sold under the brand name Zyban.

To obtain the full report visit www.tobaccofreekids.org/reports/settlements. Information about quitting smoking is available by visiting www.health.ny.gov or by calling the NYS Smokers Quitline at 1-866-NY QUITS (1-866-697-8487).