To the editor:
As a nurse and case manager, I see the effects tobacco use has on my patients' health. Tobacco use increases complications in my diabetic, cardiac and hypertension disease patients. I witness their struggles to control their diseases and the associated anxiety and frustration when they can't. Tobacco smoke sabotages many of these efforts.
As a result of these experiences, I was shocked to see that the governor's proposed budget will likely reduce funding of the New York State Tobacco Control Program. The state's Tobacco Control Program has been cut in half over the past five years. New York's tax on tobacco, $4.35 per pack, is the highest in the country, generating $2 billion each year, yet less than 2 percent of that revenue is used for tobacco control.
Studies have found that spending money on tobacco-control programs will pay for itself in future savings. With every dollar spent on these programs, New York state will save $3 to $10 by reducing smoking-related health care costs.
It is clear to me that we should be investing more, not less, in tobacco control. Programs like the NYS Smokers' Quitline, the North Country Tobacco Cessation Center, Adirondack Tobacco Free Network and Reality Check help prevent youth smoking, support health care provider efforts to counsel patients about their tobacco use, and assist people ready to stop smoking.
As a taxpayer and a nurse, I am concerned that decreasing funding to tobacco control now will cost us more in lives lost and increased health care costs in the future.
Hazel Taft, RN, CCM, care coordinator case manager