When the smoke clears from Albany's latest inept attempt to get a grip on the budget crisis, one casualty will likely be the state's anti-smoking campaign. Governor Paterson, a committed proponent of the anti-smoking program, has nevertheless proposed a $10 million cut in order to help address a $3.2 billion deficit. The cutback would reduce funding for programs that provide free nicotine patches and help Medicaid patients quit smoking, among other things. Naturally, the cigarette industry and its allies are passing around the cigars.

Audrey Silk of New York City Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment [NYC CLASH!] tells the AP the Center for a Tobacco Free New York "should be eliminated completely. While they report they have been effective, their reports are based on surveys of people reporting their own smoking habits. In a climate where you are so stigmatized and demonized for being a smoker, who will answer honestly?'' Spoken like a typical, prevaricating smoker!

But Russ Sciandra, the director of the state's anti-smoking Center, is concerned that the budget cuts will reverse a historic drop in smoking in New York, which he attributes to the state's various programs and advertisements to discourage tobacco use. (That New York also has some of the highest cigarette taxes in the nation probably helps, too.) Sciandra contends that the anti-smoking campaign has actually saved the city untold millions in health care costs, and tells the AP, "This is the kind of forward thinking we have. We have a program that is saving money, so let's cut it to the bone, way more than others. Why? Because it's easy."