Smoking rates in New York state hits all-time low
ALBANY, N.Y. -- Smoking among adults in New York state declined to an all-time low of 18.1 percent last year, according to a study released Tuesday.
The drop in cigarette use in New York, from 20.8 percent in 2003 to 18.1 percent in 2004, outpaced the national reduction of 21.6 percent to 20.9 percent over the same period, the report conducted by research group RTI International found.
Cigarette use among high school students in New York meanwhile declined from 27.1 percent to 18.5 percent between 2000 to 2004.
An effective anti-smoking campaign, higher cigarette taxes, and the Clean Indoor Air Act are contributing to the dropping rates, said Russell Sciandra, director of the Center for a Tobacco Free New York. Still, he noted the numbers would be far lower with more state funding for anti-smoking programs.
"The tobacco prevention program has been chronically underfunded," he said.
The state this year dedicated about $42 million to anti-tobacco programs, although not all that money has been spent, Sciandra said.
Tobacco companies spend $830 million annually on advertising and promotion in New York.
Earlier this year, health officials pledged to wage a stronger anti-tobacco campaign after an RTI report criticized the state for not doing enough to encourage people to quit smoking. Health officials last year said the majority of the state's anti-smoking commercials did not resonate with New Yorkers.
Tuesday's report found the state's ads have improved and become more emotionally provoking. One such spot featured the real-life story of Pam Laffin, a resident who was dying of emphysema, and the reactions of her young children.
"Those were the kinds of ads we'd like to see. It's a much better program now than it was three or four years ago," Sciandra said.
The report released Tuesday also found exposure to second-hand smoke among adults has declined rapidly since the enactment of the Clean Indoor Air Act, dropping from about 3.8 hours per week before the law went into effect to 1.5 hours per week in 2004.
A report published this summer in the public health journal Tobacco Control found bar and restaurant workers in New York have suffered fewer sore throats and runny noses since the state's workplace smoking ban went into effect.