Advocates push efforts against smoking

BOSTON, Mass. (WWLP) — Tobacco advocates are urging lawmakers to strengthen efforts against smoking.

According to the American Cancer Society, 70 percent of adult cigarette smokers want to quit and 60 percent have tried to quit within the past year.

Anti-tobacco advocates are lobbying lawmakers for more resources to help people kick the habit. They're asking to expand access to cessation products and programs that provide free counseling and nicotine patches, as well as a $1.7 million increase in funding to a Massachusetts tobacco control program. They also want to go beyond the governor's proposal of a 50 cent tax-hike to a $1.25 tax-hike on cigarettes.

Advocates say these measures will save the state millions in health care costs and generate over $140 million in revenue. "Ten percent of our health care dollars in Massachusetts are spent on treating tobacco-related illness, that's over $4 billion dollars. And in this day and age where we're looking to reduce health care costs, we can't do it unless we're going to take on tobacco," said Marc Hymovitz. American Cancer Society, Advocacy Director:

Pam Austin, Community Executive of the American Cancer Society, told 22News, "I have a young child myself and very concerned about what the future may bring in terms of marketing candy-looking tobacco products to him."

Advocates say greater access to products that help people quit smoking has resulted in a 25 percent reduction in smoking rates and provides the state a net savings of over $2 for each $1 invested.

The American Cancer Society says this year, 9,000 adults will die of a smoking-related illness in Massachusetts and 7,200 kids will become addicted to tobacco products.

Copyright 2014 WWLP TV. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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