Mar. 9 2009
Washington, DC — The dramatic decrease in high school smoking reported today by New York City sets an example for the nation and shows what can be accomplished when committed leaders aggressively implement proven tobacco prevention measures. We applaud Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas R. Frieden and Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein for their leadership in this effort. These smoking declines will improve New York City’s physical and financial health for generations to come by reducing smoking-caused disease, death and health care costs.
New York City has reduced high school smoking by 52 percent since 1997 to just 11 percent in 2005. This compares to a national rate of about 22 percent, according to the most recent federal government surveys. New York City now has one of the lowest high school smoking rates in the nation (Utah’s is the lowest at 7.3 percent) and it one of the few places that have met the national health goal of reducing high school smoking to 16 percent or less by the year 2010. New York City has previously reported that it has also reduced adult smoking at twice the national rate of decline.
New York City has succeeded in dramatically reducing smoking among both youths and adults because it is one of the few places that have implemented the three most effective policies to reduce smoking recommended by public health experts. New York City has a high tax on tobacco products, a strong smoke-free workplace law that includes restaurants and bars, and effective tobacco prevention and cessation programs that prevent kids from ever starting and help smokers quit.
New York City’s success demonstrates more clearly than ever that we know how to reduce tobacco use and its devastating consequences and just need the political will to act. We challenge elected leaders across the nation to work to reduce youth smoking rates to the same low levels as New York City and even lower. This is one race to the bottom that will produce nothing but winners.