FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 9, 2006
MAYOR BLOOMBERG, HEALTH COMMISSIONER FRIEDEN AND SCHOOLS CHANCELLOR KLEIN ANNOUNCE A 36% DECREASE IN SMOKING AMONG HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS SINCE 2001
New Data Shows Increase in Cigarette Tax Correlates with Significant Decrease in Underage Smokers
Decrease Shows 29,000 Fewer High Schools Students 'Lighting Up' Since 2001; Since 1997, Teenage Smoking Has Declined by More Than 50%
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, joined by Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas R. Frieden and Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein, today announced significant declines in smoking among high school students in New York City public schools. The findings - a result of a joint survey conducted by the City's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) and the Department of Education (DOE) - show smoking among high school teenagers has declined 36% (from 18% to 11%) since 2001 and 52% (from 23% to 11%) since 1997. The decrease in teenage smokers correlates with a decline in adult smokers and is attributed to both an increase in the cigarette sales tax, health education and awareness programs and the Smoke Free Air Act. The Mayor announced the new findings at the High School for Art and Design in Manhattan.
"Nine out of ten of our high school students are now non-smokers," said Mayor Bloomberg. "That's terrific progress. Teenagers are making better decisions and the decline in the smoking rates proves that our efforts to curb smoking and educate them about their health choices are working. Today, teens are recognizing the true cost of cigarettes. They're finally getting the message: smoking is dangerous and has real health consequences, not only for them but for those around them. As a result, New York City teens will live longer and healthier lives."
While education programs have been successful in delivering anti-tobacco messages, increases in cigarette sales taxes have made the largest contribution to the declining number of smokers - in both teenagers and adults. Since the introduction of increased cigarette taxes in July 2002, the number of adult smokers has also declined - by 200,000 from 2002 to 2004.
"High school students often think many of their peers smoke, but the fact is nine out of 10 don't," said Commissioner Frieden. "Nearly 80% of adult smokers started smoking as adolescents, and roughly one-third of them will be killed by tobacco unless they quit."
"While we've made excellent progress," continued Commissioner Frieden, "an estimated 30,000 public high school students in New York City still smoke and nearly two-thirds of them have tried unsuccessfully to quit. The health of New Yorkers is our top priority and increasing the cost of cigarettes, making schools and workplaces smoke-free and helping smokers with their battle to quit are key ways to accomplish that."
"From better nutrition to avoiding tobacco, our education programs are geared to help our students develop early and lifelong habits for healthy living," said Chancellor Klein. "We are making school breakfasts and lunches more nutritious and more appealing to students and reemphasizing physical education, fitness and health. All of our curricula, including the Life Skills curriculum in elementary and middle grades, counsel against smoking, as do our anti-drug instructional and guidance programs. And we have smoking cessation programs for high school students who have already begun smoking. It's a priority for us to continue to maintain and improve the health and well-being of all our students."
No smoking policies are enforced in and around schools and anti-smoking instruction, intervention and prevention programs often include school and district-wide participation in national smoking prevention and awareness programs such as the Great American Smoke-Out and national "Kick Butts Day" coming up in April. Since 2003, DOE - in partnership with DOHMH - has delivered a health-related fitness program focusing on helping all young people to be cooperative, healthy, active, motivated, positive students (C.H.A.M.P.S.) during childhood and adolescence, and healthy, well-educated, contributing members of society in adulthood. The combination of a renewed focus on physical activity and healthier eating has helped schools to support students and families in achieving this vision.
Key Findings of the Report
Parents, schools, business owners and others can seek opportunities to limit youth access to tobacco and reinforce prevention messages.
Health care providers can help their patients to quit smoking.
The Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) is part of a national survey conducted locally by the City's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) and the Department of Education (DOE) in public high schools every two years. This report is available online. For more information on tobacco cessation and how to get help to quit smoking, call 311 or visit nyc.gov/health.
Stu Loeser/Virginia Lam (212) 788-2958
Sandra Mullin (Department of Health and Mental Hygiene)
Jerry Russo/David Cantor (Department of Education)
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