Since taking office in 2002 Mayor Bloomberg has made one of his pet projects getting everyone in the city to quit smoking. He's brought smoking bans to bars, raised cigarette taxes, had the city run big anti-smoking media campaigns, raised cigarette taxes more, given away free patches and nicotine gum, and added smoking bans to our parks and beaches. And guess what? As far as the city is concerned, it has been working like gangbusters. Today the city announced that smoking in the city is at the lowest point on record. Since 2002 the number of adult smokers has declined 35 percent to just 14 percent. That's nearly half a million fewer smokers. Someday the only smokers left will be in cages at the Central Park Zoo.
“Our multi-faceted approach is helping New Yorkers quit smoking,” Deputy Mayor Gibbs said regarding the announcement. “The City’s cessation supports—including the 311 Quit-line, hard-hitting public health education campaigns, changes in legislation such as the 2002 Smoke-Free Air Act and excise taxes on cigarettes - have resulted in successful quitters and declines in death rates. We’re pleased today to see these multi-pronged efforts paying off.”
The biggest recorded declines were seen in Staten Island, a notoriously smokey borough, where the number of active smokers went from 19 to 14 percent. Even more dramatic is the drop in public high school students who smoke, which the city says has declined from 18 percent to just seven percent. Those numbers are more impressive when compared to the national teen smoking numbers, which was at 20 percent in 2009. Of course, in the rest of the country a pack of smokes is far easier to afford on a weekly allowance than it is here.