New York's efforts to curb tobacco usage have not kept pace with the level recommended by the federal government and is spending less than it did more than 20 years based on inflation, according to a report released this week by the New York Public Interest Research Group.
The report comes as Gov. Kathy Hochul has proposed a $1 increase in the state's tax on cigarettes, growing it from $4.35 to $5.35 if given final approval in the state budget this year.
Hochul's tax proposal is expected to lead to more revenue for the state and, anti-tobacco advocates hope, fuel more campaigns to encourage people to either quit smoking and tobacco usage or not take it up.
Convenience store groups, however, are pushing back on the proposal with concerns the measure could lead to more crime and counterfeiting in the state.
The New York Association of Convenience Stores on Monday launched an ad campaign opposing the proposed tobacco tax increase.
"These regressive policies will increase crime and strengthen the illegal market, rob state and local governments of much-needed tax revenue and put legitimate retailers out of business," said New York Association of Convenience Stores President Kent Sopris. "What it won't do is stop smoking and the more New Yorkers hear the facts the more they realize that prohibition doesn't work."
The NYPIRG report pointed to the $27 billion in tobacco taxes and fees collected in the years since a nationwide settlement with states and the tobacco industry. But despite the added cash, New York's anti-tobacco efforts haven't kept pace with inflation.
Overall, the state has spent about $1 billion on anti-tobacco efforts in New York.
"New York should increase its commitment to tobacco control efforts by following the recommendations of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; it recommends the state spend up to $203 million annually," the group wrote.