A record-low 14 percent of New York City residents are smoking, according to a new study from the city Department of Health.
In 2002, 22 percent of New Yorkers were puffing away. Mayor Bloomberg said Thursday that this means 450,000 New Yorkers have quit smoking in the last nine years, The New York Post reports. The same study also showed a steep drop in smoking rates for teenagers, from 18 percent to 7 percent.
“Smoking is the leading cause of preventable, premature death in New York City and the nation today and we’re proud that a record number of News Yorkers are saving their own lives by quitting,” said Mayor Bloomberg in a statement. “This decrease will prevent 50,000 premature deaths by the year 2052 and I encourage those who are still smoking to take this opportunity to get help quitting by calling 311 today.”
City Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley added that the city is making historic progress against its biggest killer.
And other city officials were quick to attribute this dramatic decline to a series of tough, controversial anti-smoking laws.
"In the last ten years we’ve become an increasingly smoke-free city," said city council speaker Christine Quinn. "We’ve reduced the exposure to secondhand smoke for millions of New Yorkers by passing several measures to strengthen our Smoke Free Air Act, including an amendment last May that made our public parks and beaches smoke-free. This matters because according to experts secondhand smoke causes more cancer deaths than asbestos, benzene, arsenic, and pesticides combined.”
State and city taxes on tobacco have raised the prices of a pack of cigarettes in New York to as high as $14.00.
According to NY1, the city wants to reduce the smoking rate to 12 percent by 2012.