Mar. 27 2013
WASHINGTON, DC – The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids congratulates New York City as it celebrates the 10th anniversary of its comprehensive smoke-free law this Saturday. For the past 10 years, New York City has led the nation and the world in fighting tobacco use – the number one cause of preventable death – and demonstrated that this battle is entirely winnable with sustained commitment and leadership. The 10th anniversary of the smoke-free law is an opportunity for New York City to build on its progress and for others to follow the city's powerful example.
Under the leadership of Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the City Council, New York City has achieved unprecedented declines in both adult and youth smoking by implementing scientifically proven strategies. On March 30, 2003, the city implemented the Smoke-Free Air Act, which made all restaurants, bars and other workplaces smoke-free and protected everyone's right to breathe clean air. New York City also has the highest combined state-cigarette tax in the nation at $5.85 per pack and has conducted frequent, hard-hitting anti-smoking media campaigns.
As a result, New York City has driven down smoking far faster and to far lower levels than the nation as a whole. The adult smoking rate has declined 31 percent since 2002, from 21.5 to 14.8 percent, while youth smoking has been cut by more than half since 2001, from 17.6 to 8.5 percent. In contrast, 19 percent of adults and 18.1 percent of high school students still smoke nationwide.
New York's progress is saving and extending lives. The city's life expectancy is at an all-time high of 80.9 years, above the national average of 78.7 years, thanks in large part to its success in reducing both smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke.
New York City's smoke-free law helped inspire a movement that has swept the nation and the world. Today, 30 states and Washington, DC, have smoke-free laws that include restaurants and bars, compared to just two when New York City's law went into effect. Worldwide, Ireland was inspired by New York's example to become the first smoke-free country, even in its famous pubs. Today, dozens of countries are smoke-free.
New York City showed that smoke-free laws are easily implemented, achieve almost universal compliance and quickly improve air quality and health. New York's experience also added to the overwhelming evidence that smoke-free laws protect health without hurting business.
Despite its progress, New York City's battle against tobacco is far from over. There are still more than 900,000 adult smokers and 19,000 youth smokers in the city. To keep making progress, the City Council should enact the recently introduced legislation to eliminate tobacco industry discounting and attractive store displays of tobacco packages. These bills directly target tobacco industry practices that entice kids to start using tobacco and discourage current smokers from quitting. They are about protecting kids and saving lives.
We applaud New York City's leaders for recognizing that winning the fight against tobacco requires unrelenting dedication and leadership. The tobacco industry never stops pushing its deadly and addictive products. Elected officials everywhere must be equally aggressive in working to protect kids, help smokers quit and save lives.