Friday, March 2, 2012

3/2/12: It’s About Saving Lives

Ulster Prevention Council Blog 3/2/12

It’s About Saving Lives.

This morning I had the good fortune to attend the American Cancer Society Live Legislative Breakfast Talk Show at the Holiday Inn in Kingston. The topic was the state of New York’s tobacco prevention program.
I want to thank the American Cancer Society for reminding me why this funding is so important, and why I work in the prevention field.

As each speaker recounted how his/her own life had been personally affected by cancer, loved ones came to mind.  Last June I lost my beloved father to stomach cancer. I lost my grandfather to lung cancer, and a close friend, only 49 years old and a nonsmoker, was diagnosed with lung cancer and is currently fighting for her life.

In the US, men have slightly less than a 1 in 2 lifetime risk of developing cancer; for women, the risk is a little more than 1 in 3.  In 2012, about 577,190 Americans are expected to die of cancer, more than 1,500 people a day. Cancer is the second most com­mon cause of death in the US, exceeded only by heart disease, accounting for nearly 1 of every 4 deaths. About 1,638,910 new cancer cases are expected to be diagnosed in 2012.

An estimated 226,160 new cases of lung cancer are expected in 2012, accounting for about 14% of cancer diagnoses. Lung cancer accounts for more deaths than any other cancer in both men and women. An estimated 160,340 deaths, accounting for about 28% of all cancer deaths, are expected to occur in 2012.

Cigarette smoking is by far the most important risk factor for lung cancer; risk increases with both quantity and duration of smoking. Male smokers are about 23 times more likely to develop lung cancer than nonsmokers. The number of lung cancer deaths among women surpasses those for breast cancer.
Nearly a quarter of high school students in the U.S. smoke cigarettes. Another 8% use smokeless tobacco. Smoking has many health risks for everyone. However, the younger you are when you start smoking, the more problems it can cause. According to the NIH, people who start smoking before the age of 21 have the hardest time quitting.  About 30% of youth smokers will continue smoking and die early from a smoking-related disease.
Tobacco control program have been proven to reduce youth smoking and help current smokers to quit. When more adequately funded, the New York tobacco control programs achieved successes in the effort to curb tobacco use. Teenage and adult tobacco use rates have fallen faster in New York than in the U.S. as a whole. In 2010, 12.6 percent of teenagers and 15.5 percent of adults were smokers.

However, New York has slashed its tobacco control budget. Since 2007, state funding has been cut in half, and New York has dropped from 5th to 20th among states per capita spending on tobacco control. Did you know that in New York, only about four pennies of every dollar raised by tobacco revenues goes to help people quit smoking?

With more resources, New York could target more resources to adult cessation, increase community level interventions, increase funding for anti-smoking media messages, and develop and implement strategies for reaching those in high-risk populations.

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network provides a simple way to advocate for appropriate levels of funding: Visit to email your state legislators to increase funding for tobacco control programming.
Remember, it’s about saving lives!


Cheryl De Paolo
Family Services
Ulster Prevention Council
Program Director
85 Grand Street
Kingston, NY 12401
Phone 845-458-7406
Fax 845-458-7407

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