The American Heart Association is disappointed that a tobacco tax increase isn’t part of the 2021-2022 New York State budget. Also left out were appropriations for Double Up Food Bucks, an incentive that would let SNAP recipients double their buying power of healthy food.
“A tobacco tax would have been a win-win, and the state created a lose-lose situation,” said David Ping, chair, Eastern States Region Board, American Heart Association & American Stroke Association. “Tobacco use is a leading risk factor for heart disease and stroke, the nation’s No. 1 and No. 5 killers. Twenty-two thousand New Yorkers die each year of smoking-related diseases, and we know that a tobacco tax increase reduces smoking rates. Youth, especially, are sensitive to price increases, so we could have stopped this lifetime addiction in its tracks.”
Thanks to champions Senators Hoylman and Stavisky and Assemblymember Rosenthal, who have sponsored legislation supportive of the American Heart Association in the past, the American Heart Association will continue to advocate for a tobacco tax increase with the state Legislature.
Likewise, the lack of funding for Double Up Food Bucks is a missed opportunity to improve the health of New York’s SNAP recipients.
“Double Up Food Bucks would let SNAP recipients really leverage their buying power, providing them with a $1: $1 match for every dollar already spent on fruits and vegetables,” said Ping. “Consuming more fresh fruits and vegetables can help reduce obesity, another leading risk factor for heart disease and stroke. We also know every $5 spent using SNAP generates as much as $9 in economic activity. Like the tobacco tax increase, we will continue to work with the state Legislature to fund the Double Up Food Bucks program.”
The American Heart Association was glad that funding for the Hypertension and Obesity Control Programs was restored at $692,000 and $5.9 million, respectively.
“We are also glad that the Tobacco Control Program saw an increase in funding of $75,000, to bring that to $39 million, said Ping. “Every dollar counts, and we are glad to see this funding in place.”
In addition to the Double Up Food Bucks funding and an increase to the Tobacco Tax, the American Heart Association will also advocate for measures that will reduce sugary drink consumption and end the sale of menthol cigarettes and other flavored tobacco products.
For information about the American Heart Association’s legislative initiatives, join YoureTheCure.org.