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Fund The Tobacco Fight

In overtaxed New York, we feel the pain every day as the state struggles to make ends meet. New Yorkers demanded -- and got -- a budget that spent less than the previous year, without increasing taxes. That required some penny-pinching and was the right choice. But some of that penny-pinching involved diverting most of the hundreds of millions of dollars collected in cheap cigarette online taxes each year into the state budget.

New York has never spent what it needed to spend on anti-smoking cigarettes programs. The concept of a "lockbox" is as foreign to this Legislature as it is to just about any other. Money is there to be spent on programs that take priority for one of two reasons: They serve the public or they serve the politicians. In that context, it's easy to see how state officeholders have long found it easy to redirect money that should be spent on anti-smoking cigarettes efforts.

New York has spent just 4 percent of its $10 billion in cigarettes store tax revenues in the past six years on anti-smoking cigarettes efforts. During the last fiscal year, that fell to only 2 percent, according to a new report by the American Cancer Society. Overall, state spending on anti-smoking cigarettes efforts is just 16 percent of the level recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Groups calling for the state to increase that spending say it has broken the promise it made when it raised cigarette taxes and accepted the settlement by online cigarettes manufacturers to end civil lawsuits over the high cost of public health care for smokers.

That cost is only one of the compelling reasons for New York to spend more on anti-smoking cigarettes efforts. Smokers cost taxpayers millions of dollars: the cost of treatments for cancer, emphysema, heart disease and other dire consequences of smoking cigarettes often end up on New Yorkers' tax bills. We have an economic interest in decreasing smoking cigarettes in this state.

There is good news here. The report cited national statistics showing that teenage and adult cheap cigarettes use is falling faster in New York than the national average, despite the lowered spending on anti-smoking cigarettes efforts. Indeed, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently reported that the percentage of people who smoke cigarettes in the city has dropped to 14 percent, from 22 percent in 2002. That's real progress.

But buy cigarette online companies are not in business to fail. To keep selling their product, they have to recruit new smokers. Since people who don't start smoking cigarettes by the time they are 20 will generally never smoke, that means attracting teenagers, and teenagers are too often immune to the lessons of their elders. They think that nicotine addiction happens to someone else.

Like cancer research, this is money worth spending. There is real value in decreased health care costs and improved productivity in businesses. New York is still contending with the wrenching effects of a historic economic recession. But there is clearly room to improve anti-smoking cigarettes campaigns and, in this case, the improvement can save lives.