05/12/09 Sense From New York?

In a move that Britain should follow, New York has cut the budget on anti-smoking to the tune of $10m.[1] Ten million dollars is a staggering sum, but it is even more staggering to comprehend that that is only what it has been cut by, the NY anti-smoking budget must exceed that considerably otherwise it would not be ‘cut’ but ‘eradicated’.

Actually, it does far exceed that. Funding was $85 million last year and $58 million this year. Almost $60 million dollars spent to persecute law-abiding citizens. Russ Sciandra, the director of the Center for a Tobacco Free New York, is somewhat outraged: “That means a tremendous fall off of service” Actually Russ, it means a wonderful turnaround away from fascism.

As Audrey Silk of NYCLASH says: “It’s a waste of taxpayer money. I’m sure the vast majority of New York state residents would like to see their tax dollars used on other things, such as transit, Medicaid and schools.”

Too true Audrey.

The article states that ‘New York has among the highest cigarette taxes in the nation, was one of the earliest states to ban indoor smoking in public places and even banned the sale of tobacco products at the State Fair as part of its goal to become “the healthiest state.”’

Hmm. Am I alone in acknowledging that health goes far beyond tobacco consumption? Indeed, with about 70% of Olympic athletes, it must be quite low down. While those athletes are able to smoke and compete at such a high level, they are not able to live on unhealthy junk food – which NY still sells at low prices on the streets, and to children. Hypocrisy, anyone?

‘Sciandra said the latest cut, now in front of the Legislature, would also reduce funding for programs that provide free nicotine patches and help Medicaid patients to quit smoking. Besides saving lives, he says the programs have saved the state millions in health care costs.

“This is the kind of forward thinking we have,” Sciandra said in disgust after Paterson released his plan Tuesday. “We have a program that is saving money, so let’s cut it to the bone, way more than others. Why? Because it’s easy.”‘

Wrong Sciandra. There is no ‘forward thinking’ in your line of work, only in the budget cut. If your work has saved millions of lives, name them. Cutting nicotine patches and anti-smoking ideologies is only a good thing.

Moreover, how is $58 million cut “to the bone”? Frankly, $58 million is $58 million too much, and still an extraordinary sum of money for what is solely harassing a lone group of citizens.

It isn’t all good news though, as Matt Anderson, the budget spokesman, said:

“We will continue to conduct a statewide advertising campaign, provide free nicotine patches to smokers, and operate the toll-free 1-866-NY-QUITS help line, among other initiative. Even in an environment of limited resources, we’ll continue to build on the success we’ve had in helping New Yorkers quit smoking.”

Success? Only if that if his word for ‘disgrace’

[1] http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2009/11/new_york_budget_cuts_target_an.html

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