This month, the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene released data from the 2013 Community Health Survey, revealing NYC adult smoking rates have increased to 16.1%. This is a substantial increase from the historic low rate of 14% in 2010, which occurred after a variety of tobacco prevention and control initiatives (expansion of the smoke-free air act, new public health campaigns, and price increases) were implemented.
Welcome from Albany.
Recently, New York City made great progress moving tobacco control forward becoming the most significant community in the nation to place restrictions on discounts and coupons for tobacco products and setting a significant “price floor.” These restrictions combine to offset the tobacco industry’s strategy of undermining high prices for tobacco products, one of the most powerful interventions we have in tobacco control. While the tobacco industry initially sued the city, the new law was upheld and the industry chose not to appeal the outcome. Thus, restrictions on coupons and discounts went into effect on August 1st while the price floor regulation was not challenged and went into effect earlier in the year.
This is a very positive outcome for New York City and for tobacco control in general. It bodes well for our state which has the highest tax in the nation, comprehensive clean indoor air legislation, and an evidence-based tobacco control program. Point of sale policy initiatives, like those passed in New York City are the next logical step as we continue to push hard to reduce the influence of the tobacco industry on youth initiation and adult cessation.
Thanks to our New York City contractors and contractors across the state for all the good work they do to reduce the impact of tobacco industry promotion and marketing, and protect the health and well-being of all New Yorkers.
The amendment to the Smoke-Free Air Act to include e-cigarettes went into effect yesterday. New Yorkers are now able to breathe clean, smoke- and vapor-free air in public places and workplaces. This is another milestone in tobacco control and a huge win for New Yorkers, especially our kids.
Fifty years after the first U.S. Surgeon General report on smoking, patterns of cigarette use have changed. Tobacco is still the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, but smoking is increasingly a burden on the poor and working class.
According to a study recently published by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, Americans living in affluent counties smoke less over time than those living in counties with lower income.
In New York City and State, leaders in tobacco control policy have instituted a comprehensive approach to tobacco control and prevention, including strong smoke-free laws, high prices for cigarettes and hard-hitting educational media. While the overall smoking rate has declined in New York State, the rates have not declined for the poor and less educated as significantly as they have among those who are more affluent and educated.
Take the South Bronx—a prime example of this disparity. The Bronx has been rated as one of the nation’s unhealthiest and most poverty stricken counties. More than a quarter-million people in the South Bronx are living in poverty, making it the poorest Congressional District in the nation. With a smoking rate of 18.2%, the South Bronx has one of the highest smoking rates in New York City, which has a citywide smoking rate of 15.5%.
On February 12, the Coalition joined tobacco control leaders from around New York State (NYS) in the State capital, Albany, to educate legislators on the critical public health need to have well funded tobacco control and prevention programs.
Tobacco use continues to inflict a terrible toll on NYC residents, especially many at-risk populations. The working poor and vulnerable populations are disproportionately affected by tobacco use. Tobacco control programs help those who need it most.
In the last 50 years, we’ve made tremendous progress in reducing the burden of tobacco. Here are some milestones from the last 50 years in tobacco control:
As 2013 draws to a close, I reflect on the progress we’ve made over the past year to raise awareness around tobacco control in New York City and the country. By partnering with community members and health advocates, and then educating policy makers, we’ve supported efforts that we believe will effect long-term, positive change and protect public health.
Here’s our Top Ten list for 2013:
1. Three new smoke-free laws
New York City became the first major city in the country to raise the legal sale age for tobacco products to 21. Mayor Bloomberg and the New York City Council also passed legislation to stop tobacco industry discount schemes; and prohibit the smoking of electronic cigarettes in indoor public places and workplaces, including bars and restaurants. These bold and groundbreaking smoke-free laws should help reduce youth smoking rates in our City and serve as models for the rest of the United States and the world.