State cuts to anti-smoking programs

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Monday, February 27, 2012 | Bill Mich | Categories:
In an effort to reduce spending and balance the budget, New York is among a group of states cutting funds for anti-smoking programs. Our Bill Mich spoke with a representative for the Southern Tier Tobacco Awareness Community Partnership to find out how this decision could effect the effort to make Chemung, Steuben and Schuyler County tobacco free. SOUTHERN TIER, N.Y. -- It is a commercial that many people find pretty disturbing. And while it is uncomfortable, it is effective. But New York state is now cutting funding to anti-smoking programs including the media campaign. "The media is a great way to reach those people in the outlying areas that aren't coming in or aren't participating in different community events and reducing that is going to hurt those calls to the quitline," said Cassie Coombs, the STTAC program coordinator. New York State spends 8.17 billion dollars a year on tobacco related health care costs. While the state admits the anti-tobacco programs work and help save money on health care, budget concerns have taken precedent. Now the burden to push a tobacco free campaign falls on the shoulders of local organizations like the Southern Tier Tobacco Awareness Community Partnership. "It's becoming more creative with what you have and still trying to get those services to people that want that help," Coombs said. But there is only so much those organizations can do and without the help from the state programs, spreading a tobacco free message can be difficult. "Only about three fourths of our adults have heard of the New York State's smokers quitline, so there is still a whole quarter of people in our three counties that haven't heard of it and may not know that that program is out there to help them quit," said Coombs. So while the state may be cutting back on their programs, there is still local help available to people hoping to quit, they just have to look for it. Smokers looking to quit can call 1-866-NY-QUITS for help or visit www.sttac.org for more anti-tobacco initiatives.
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