New York City Sets Standard for the Nation in Reducing High School Smoking

Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

Jan. 2 2008

Washington, D.C. — The dramatic decrease in high school smoking reported today by New York City sets an example for the nation and shows what can be achieved when committed leaders aggressively implement proven tobacco prevention measures. We applaud Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas R. Frieden for their leadership in implementing a comprehensive, aggressive and sustained tobacco prevention program. These smoking declines will benefit all New Yorkers by saving lives, improving health and reducing health care costs for generations to come.

According to the data released today, New York City has reduced high school smoking by more than half over the past six years, from 17.6 percent in 2001 to 8.5 percent in 2007. While a comparable national rate has yet to be released for 2007, New York City’s high school smoking rate is nearly two-thirds lower than the most recent national rate of 23 percent in 2005, and it is lower than any reported state high school smoking rate except for Utah, which had a high school smoking rate of 7.4 percent in 2005. New York City’s adult smoking rate of 17.5 percent in 2006 is also significantly lower than the national rate of 20.8 percent.

Most notably, New York City has continued to significantly reduce high school smoking rates in recent years while such declines have stalled nationally since about 2003. New York City has succeeded because it is one of the few places in the country that have implemented all three of the most effective policies to reduce tobacco use recommended by public health experts: a high tobacco tax, a comprehensive smoke-free workplace law and well-funded tobacco prevention and cessation programs. New York City has also recognized the need to sustain these programs over time so every generation is protected.

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States, killing more than 400,000 people and costing the nation more nearly $100 billion in health care bills each year. New York City’s success demonstrates more clearly than ever than we know how to reduce tobacco use and its devastating consequences and just need the political leadership to implement these proven measures. We challenge leaders across the nation to follow New York City’s example and work to reduce youth smoking rates to the same low levels and even lower.

 

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