New York City Reduces Smoking to Record Lows

September 19, 2011

From New York City comes more evidence that we know how to win the fight against tobacco and just need the political will to implement proven solutions. In New York, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has provided that political will by championing a comprehensive strategy that includes a high tobacco tax, comprehensive smoke-free law and hard-hitting media campaigns that discourage kids from smoking and encourage smokers to quit.

As a result, New York City in 2010 reduced smoking rates to all-time lows of 14 percent among adults and 7.2 percent among public high school students, compared to national rates of 19.3 percent for adults and 19.5 percent for high schoolers (the national high school rate is for 2009), according to data just released by the city.

As Russell Sciandra of the American Cancer Society in New York told The New York Times, 'A 7 percent smoking rate among kids – holy cow.'

New York City has cut adult smoking by 35 percent since 2002 and high school smoking in half since 2001, both far faster than national declines.

The most important number of all: The city estimates that the adult smoking declines alone will prevent 50,000 premature deaths from smoking.

Imagine how many more lives we can save if the nation and every state and community followed New York City's example. It's also a great example to the world leaders meeting at the United Nations in New York this week on combating non-communicable diseases such as cancer and heart disease, for which tobacco use is a leading cause.