The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network marked the American Cancer Society’s 41st annual Great American Smokeout Thursday by calling on New York State leaders to protect the health of our residents by allocating $52 million to support the New York State Tobacco Control Program. This program supports those trying to quit smoking and provides non-smokers support so they never start. Only by tackling tobacco use through a comprehensive approach can we effectively overcome the country’s tobacco epidemic and prevent the more than 480,000 deaths each year caused by tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke.
ACS CAN, the Society’s advocacy affiliate, supports evidence-based strategies proven to reduce tobacco use including comprehensive smoke-free laws, increasing tobacco excise taxes and increasing and adequately funding evidence-based tobacco prevention and cessation programs.

The Society launched the Great American Smokeout 41 years ago as a platform to encourage smokers to quit. Since then, the program has expanded to not only encourage tobacco users to make a plan to quit, but also to encourage all Americans to advocate for comprehensive smoke-free laws, increased tobacco excise taxes and increased funding for evidence-based tobacco cessation programs. According to the 2014 Surgeon General’s report, while smoking has declined over the last 50 years since the first report linking smoking to devastating diseases like cancer, cigarettes have since become more deadly and the risk of disease and death caused by smoking has not declined. In fact, smoking is now linked to at least 15 types of cancers, including for the first time, liver and colorectal cancers, and today’s smokers have a higher risk of lung cancer than smokers 50 years ago.

The use of tobacco products remains the nation’s number one cause of preventable death, killing more than 480,000 Americans and costing $289 billion in health care costs and lost productivity annually. In New York State, tobacco is responsible for 28,200 deaths each year.