New York County Ranked #1 for Positive Changes in Life Expectancy

July 11, 2013

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Good news for New Yorkers: several New York City counties have seen the greatest increases in life expectancy of all U.S. counties over the past 25 years, according to a new study. Given that tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death, New York City’s tobacco control efforts were likely a contributing factor.

Published by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, the study (“Left behind: widening disparities for males and females in US county life expectancy, 1985–2010”) examined the changes in life expectancy by U.S. county from 1985 to 2010. For that time period, a number of counties in or near New York City – including the boroughs of Manhattan, Kings (Brooklyn), Bronx and Queens – rank among those with the largest increases in life expectancy for both men and women. Additionally, New York county (a.k.a. Manhattan) itself ranks first for positive change in life expectancy for both genders.

New York City’s tobacco control measures presumably played a role. Thanks to the commitment of Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the City Council, New York City has seen unprecedented declines in both adult and youth smoking. In March, New York City marked the ten-year anniversary of its comprehensive smoke-free law, which made all restaurants, bars and other workplaces smoke-free. 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.

This is fantastic news – not just for New Yorkers. Their now-longer lives are yet another example of the positive impact of implementing proven tobacco control policies.