This year is expected to be a banner year for the smoke-free movement. Much of that is a result of the significant policy changes and incredible tobacco-control strides we made last year. Our 2017 “Year-in-Review” shows how far we’ve come since the NYC Smoke-Free Air Act of 2002:
- A package of comprehensive tobacco bills passed in the NYC Council that will further protect New Yorkers from dangerous secondhand smoke exposure and reduce the availability of tobacco products across the boroughs.
- The NYC Smoke-Free Reality Check program has engaged hundreds of teens about the predatory marketing practices of big tobacco.
- We continued to assist buildings in going smoke-free, ensuring over 38,000 families receive smoke-free protections to breathe easy at home.
- We led two presentations at the American Public Health Association 2017 Annual Meeting & Expo in Atlanta, GA.
- This summer, almost half a million NYCHA residents will also enjoy healthier living as the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s new smoke-free housing rule goes into effect.
- We took part in Great American Smoke-Out events throughout NYC to promote smoking cessation resources for those ready to quit tobacco use. The video below on the impact of the tobacco industry’s manipulative marketing tactics, including menthol, was debuted by one of our former Reality Check student leaders at the Bronx event.
Perhaps most importantly, we have seen the smoking rate decrease to 13.1% among adult New Yorkers, continuing a significant downward trend over the last 15 years since the passing of the NYC Smoke-Free Air Act. The current rate represents a 39% decline in smoking from the 2002 prevalence rate. This dramatic reduction in smoking and tobacco exposure is proof that New York’s comprehensive approach to tobacco control and prevention has been remarkably effective in preventing kids from starting to smoke, helping adult smokers quit, and serving as a counter to the tobacco industry’s aggressive marketing and negative influence.
But despite the tremendous progress we’ve made, there are still nearly 870,000 adult smokers in New York City, and significant disparities in smoking and secondhand smoke exposure continue to exist – such as in communities of color and populations with limited income or education.
Moreover, dangerous new products such as e-cigarettes and vape pens with dubious health claims continue to flood the market, attracting young people in particular. Another harsh reality is menthol cigarette advertising and availability, which continues to plague African American communities at disproportionate rates, as has been the case for decades.
As resources for tobacco control programs such as ours become less secure, our NYC Smoke-Free team will work harder to advocate for all vulnerable populations who have historically not had a voice.
Check out NYC Smoke-Free’s Year End Review for more 2017 tobacco control highlights.