FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 15, 2011
MAYOR BLOOMBERG, SPEAKER QUINN, DEPUTY MAYOR GIBBS AND HEALTH COMMISSIONER FARLEY ANNOUNCE NUMBER OF CITY SMOKERS HAS HIT AN ALL-TIME LOW AT 14 PERCENT
Nearly Half a Million New Yorkers Have Quit Smoking Since 2002
100,000 Fewer Smokers in New York from 2009 to 2010 Alone
Staten Islanders and Teens City-Wide among the Steepest Declines
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Linda I. Gibbs and Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas A. Farley today announced that New York City’s adult smoking rate has reached an all-time low with only 14 out of 100 New Yorkers still smoking. This marks a decrease in the number of New Yorkers who smoke by 35 percent since 2002, when the Health Department began its efforts to reduce tobacco use. This translates to approximately 450,000 fewer adult smokers in New York City, with some of the steepest declines registered among Staten Islanders and teens city-wide. Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Farley were joined at the Health Department’s new Long Island City headquarters for today’s announcement by Senator Michael Gianaris, Council Member Gale Brewer and a New Yorker who has successfully quit smoking through the City’s efforts.
“Smoking is the leading cause of preventable, premature death in New York City and the nation today and we’re proud that a record number of News Yorkers are saving their own lives by quitting,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “This decrease will prevent 50,000 premature deaths by the year 2052 and I encourage those who are still smoking to take this opportunity to get help quitting by calling 311 today.”
“The fact that the adult smoking rate is the lowest it’s been since 2002 means that lives are being saved, our air is cleaner and New Yorkers are healthier,” said Council Speaker Christine Quinn. “In the last ten years we’ve become an increasingly smoke-free city. We’ve reduced the exposure to secondhand smoke for millions of New Yorkers by passing several measures to strengthen our Smoke Free Air Act, including an amendment last May that made our public parks and beaches smoke-free. This matters because according to experts secondhand smoke causes more cancer deaths than asbestos, benzene, arsenic, and pesticides combined.”
“There is no question that addiction to cigarettes is a main source of poor health and premature death,” said Senator Michael Gianaris. “It is great to see that the number of smokers in New York is significantly lower than a decade ago thanks to Mayor Bloomberg’s aggressive efforts to help New Yorkers lead healthier lives. It is promising to see so many are learning to conquer this bad habit so they can live longer and be more prosperous.”
“Our multi-faceted approach is helping New Yorkers quit smoking,” said Deputy Mayor Gibbs. “The City’s cessation supports – including the 311 Quit-line, hard-hitting public health education campaigns, changes in legislation such as the 2002 Smoke-Free Air Act and excise taxes on cigarettes – have resulted in successful quitters and declines in death rates. We’re pleased today to see these multi-pronged efforts paying off.”
“We are making historic progress against our City’s biggest killer,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Farley. “This progress didn’t just happen. It is the result of deliberate steps taken by the Mayor and the City Council since 2002. Nevertheless, despite our falling smoking rate and a decline in smoking-related deaths over the last eight years, smoking will kill about 7,000 New Yorkers this year. For me, as Health Commissioner, this is way too many deaths and they are preventable. We will continue to work to lower smoking rates even further. I encourage those who still smoke to keep trying to quit. Calling 311 for help will increase your chances of being successful.”
“Today’s figures highlight exactly why I actively support anti-smoking education, laws and initiatives in our City – they work,” said Council Member Gale A. Brewer. “First and second hand smoke is a health problem for all New Yorkers but especially for families who have children with chronic asthma. New York is the national leader in creating healthy cities and promoting a healthy life style, and I look forward to working toward continued success.”
Since 2002, smoking dropped from a high of 22 out of 100 people to the current low of 14 out of 100. From 2009 to 2010, the smoking rate decreased by 11 percent representing 100,000 fewer smokers in that one year alone. This is the largest decline in smoking prevalence since a significant 2002-2003 decline from 22 percent to 19 percent (1,305,000 to 1,167,000 people), immediately following the 2002 passage of New York City’s Smoke-Free Air Act and the 2002 New York State cigarette tax increase.
Staten Island, which has long been the borough with high smoking rates, achieved an especially steep decline in smoking between 2009 and 2010, with a drop from 19 to 14 percent. Additionally, some neighborhoods, including Flatbush-Canarsie, Central Harlem and southern Staten Island have now seen a greater than 50 percent decline in adult smoking since 2002.
Smoking among teenagers has also dropped dramatically from 2001 to 2010 with the proportion of public high school students who smoke cut by more than half, from 18 percent to 7 percent. The New York City teen numbers are drastically lower than the national youth numbers, which showed a decline from 29% in 2001 to 20 % in 2009.
Tobacco control legislation and other public health initiatives throughout the last decade have contributed to an increase in New Yorkers’ life expectancy by more than a year and a half to 79.4.
Some of the significant changes in tobacco control policy include:
Smoke Free Air Act
Hard-hitting Public Health Education Campaigns
Point of Sale Tobacco Warning Signs
Prohibiting Sale to Minors
Stopping Illicit Sale of Cigarettes
Electronic Health Records
New Yorkers interested in quitting smoking can review the following tips to make quitting easier:
Stu Loeser/Samantha Levine (212) 788-2958
Susan Craig/Chanel Caraway (Health) (347) 396-4177
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