Lawmakers prioritize New Yorkers’ health in one-house budgets

Lawmakers prioritize New Yorkers’ health in one-house budgetsThe American Heart Association applauds the state Legislature for its inclusion of increased funding for the Tobacco Control Program and a $1 per pack tax increase on cigarettes in New York in their one-house budget proposals. These measures will help in the reduction of tobacco use throughout the state.

” We were pleased to see both the Senate and Assembly propose an increase in funding for the stat’s Tobacco Control Program in their one-house bills,”  said Melinda Murray-Nyack-Nyack, chair of the New York State Advocacy Committee of the American Heart Association. “Every year, we advocate for an increase since we are well below the CDC’s recommendation of $203 million annually. The Senate’s proposal to invest $75 million more into the program would be an historic increase, bringing the program funding up to $114 million annually. This will result in better health in New York. However, we know that to make a significant difference, we must add menthol cigarettes to the list of tobacco flavors that cannot be sold in New York.”

“We know that every time the tobacco tax rises, smoking rates decrease,” Murray-Nyack said.  “Since tobacco use is a leading risk factor for heart disease and stroke, we applaud this measure to reduce smoking rates.”

Good nutrition is one way to prevent heart disease and stroke, and nutrition policies saw good funding in both one-house budgets.

“The $280 million proposed by both houses for Universal School Meals will let every student in New York receive a nutritious breakfast and lunch,” Murray-Nyack said. “By feeding all children, we reduce the stigma that income qualifications create, and which led to some students foregoing the free meal out of shame. It’s also a relief for parents everywhere, who are facing increased living costs on every front.”

The Senate included $3 million for Double Up Food Bucks in its budget, $1 million less than the American Heart Association had requested.

“Double Up leverages the buying power for SNAP recipients, giving them an equal amount of fresh produce at participating retailers,” Murray-Nyack said. “This is an investment in their health, the local economy, and New York’s farmers. We hope the Assembly will add the $1 million to fully fund this program at the $4 million we requested.”

American Heart Association advocates held one Lobby Day and have joined other groups advocating for public health.

“We will continue to advocate for the best possible health for all New Yorkers, which includes tobacco-free living or decreasing tobacco use, and increasing the availability of healthy food for all New Yorkers,” Murray-Nyack said.

To be involved in American Heart Association advocacy efforts, visit