The Rockland County Health Department knows an opportunity when it sees one. I just received a press release pushing the county’s “Put It Our Rockland” smoke cessation program. Why now? As a way to save money as state taxes on cigarettes will jump July 1.
The press release points out that taxes on one pack will increase $1.60, to $4.35, which will push the price past $8 in most parts of the state, and higher in New York City. Local merchants and smokers are panning the plan.
But Rockland Health Commissioner Joan Facelle sees an opportunity. She said:
“Smokers should use this tax increase as motivation to quit. Not only will quitting save you money, but a smoker who quits reduces their risk of developing smoking-related heart disease, stroke, cancer and emphysema. So, if you smoke, now is the perfect time to talk to your doctor or call the Put It Out Rockland Cessation Program.”
Facelle may be onto something. According to Paul Sandhu, who works at Don Alvaro stationery store in Bardonia (see picture above), the last time cigarette taxes were raised, business went down because people quit smoking. He told The Journal News he anticipates a drop in business again.
Is there any savings in taxing cigarettes so much that people quit smoking, so the sales receipts drop? Think of the health savings from fewer smokers, and therefore less treatment for smoking-related disease.
The health department gives the contact information for the program — 845-364-2651 or visit www.putitoutrockland.com — so Rockland residents can “Quit and Save.”
PHOTO BY MARTIN BERGMAN/THE JOURNAL NEWS