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Wed May 12, 2010
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Anti-Smoking Advocates: Budget Cuts Equal More Smokers, Higher Health Costs

Oswego, NY – Healthcare advocates say cuts to the state's anti-smoking program could lead to increased healthcare spending.

Over the last 3 years, the American Cancer Society says funding for New York State's anti-smoking program has been cut from around $85 million down to about $55 million.

That's about one-third of its budget. They say that's causing an increase in the state's smoking rate over that time.

Russ Sciandra is a tobacco policy specialist for the American Cancer Society. Sciandra says they predicted that result, and the consequences they say it will have for the state's healthcare system.

"We provided estimates of what would happen as a result of the cuts to the program. That translates into a 100,000 more adult smokers of whom, nearly 28,000 will die from smoking over the next generation at a cost of $1 billion in additional health care costs, much of which is actually born by the state government," said Sciandra.

Sciandra says cuts to the anti-smoking program have been much larger than cuts to other state programs. He claims that's because of the power tobacco industry lobbyists hold in Albany.