Smoking rates see slight decline across campus

Smoking rates among Oswego State students decreased by three percent on campus, according to Oswego State Lifestyles Center.
A $0.62 increase in the cigarette tax last April, the third highest in the United States., has Oswego State students thinking twice about continuing their addiction.

Pattie Miller, an administrative assistant at the Oswego State Lifestyles Center, said students have been calling to find out why the cigarette tax was raised during such bad economic times.

"My job is to inform the students as to why smoking is such a nasty and unhealthy habit," Miller said. "The government raised the cigarette tax because they know that cigarettes have been proven to be harmful and during these tough financial times people should not be wasting their money on something like cigarettes."

Miller attributed the lack of money college students have for why they decided to quit smoking.

"College students in general don’t have enough money to keep up with the increasing prices because they are already in debt," Miller said.

"Students on this very campus have expressed to me how they cannot keep up their habit, not because it’s harmful, but because it is just flat out expensive. They just cannot grasp the reason behind why these prices are so high."

The Lifestyles Center recommends that students call the New York State Quitline because it can provide them with what they need to start to kick their habit right away, Miller said. The Lifestyles Center cannot provide a lot of assistance to students to help them fight their nicotine habits. They can only provide reasonable advice on where to start fighting it inexpensively, Miller said.

The increase in the tax has also led to a 6 percent increase in the amount of callers calling into the New York State Smokers’ Quitline since the tax increase was made official on April 1, 2009 said Samantha Parish, a three year Quitline specialist.

Parish said that she coached an average of 12 people a day on a busy day before the new tax was put into effect. Now she coaches and advises nearly 20 people on an extremely busy day.

"The increase is directly related to the new cigarette tax," Parish said.

"They know that a $2.75 tax in N.Y. on a 20-pack of cigarettes is ridiculous to be paying when money is already extremely tight and we try get them headed in the right direction."

The N.Y. Smokers Quitline offers a free starter’s kit of nicotine patches, gum or lozenges to eligible N.Y. state smokers. They offer help with quit plans and give information about local stop smoking programs.

Tim Meyer, a sophomore at Oswego State, feels like the cigarette tax is way too substantial but is starting to understand why the taxes are so high.

"At first it really made me angry paying so much for something I enjoy doing," Meyer said. "I’m starting to realize that products that are harmful like cigarettes should be taxed maybe a little bit more because they aren’t a thing a person needs to survive."

The only two states with a higher cigarette tax per pack are Connecticut and Rhode Island. N.Y. had the highest tax as of last April when the tax was put into effect. Conn. charges $3.00 a pack while R.I. remains the highest at $3.46, according to Tobacco Free Kids.