ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York's top anti-smoking groups are assailing Gov. Andrew Cuomo's budget proposal as the latest cut to effective programs aimed at saving lives and keeping teenagers from smoking.
In a letter sent to Cuomo over the weekend, the groups urged the governor to back off on what they say would be the another state budget cut to anti-smoking programs including TV ad campaigns. The letter from the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association and other groups was obtained by The Associated Press.
Cuomo said in his 2013-14 budget presentation last week that his budget would be "expanding tobacco cessation efforts." His proposal to the Legislature calls for consolidating 89 health awareness and prevention programs into six pools where groups would compete for funds. The budget proposes $40 million for all the programs, including anti-smoking measures, the same total the groups now receive.
The anti-smoking groups say the measure will make the funding of the programs less transparent to taxpayers and ultimately reduce aid. Consolidating budget lines gives the Legislature less power to add or subtract funding under state law.
"Given the lack of transparency we do not know how much, if any, will be invested to help in the Tobacco Control Program," the anti-smoking groups said. "Successful programs that are currently funded as line items in the budget will have to compete for fewer resources. ... It will also create uncertainty for the programs around the state that depend on it. Most importantly, it will likely lead to higher smoking rates in New York."
The Cuomo administration disputed the anti-smoking group's claims.
"Consolidation will have no adverse effect on transparency, access or quality of services," Cuomo spokesman Richard Azzopardi said Sunday. "These reforms will ensure New Yorkers receive better and more efficient services at less cost."