Monday, August 27, 2007
Smoking in New York City
A Borough-By-Borough Survey
New York City has 240,000 fewer smokers than it did in 2002, according to a recent report released by the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. City health official Jennifer Ellis told the New York Times that the data represent the sharpest fall-off in cigarette smoking since the department began the surveys in 1993.
The report cited bans on smoking in public places, higher taxes on tobacco products, and a multi-million dollar local advertising campaign as the ingredients that helped lead to the overall reduction in the number of smokers. Based on a citywide survey of adults, Who’s Still Smoking states that as many as 800,000 smokers attempted to quit in the past year, but less than one-fifth of them succeeded.
However, quit rates over the 5-year period varied markedly from borough to borough. Staten Island proved to be the home of the city’s most stubborn and recalcitrant smokers: While the citywide smoking rate dropped by almost 20 per cent, Staten Island’s smoking rate—27 per cent, according to the survey--has remained steady since 2002. Manhattan and the Bronx ended in a virtual tie for first place, with smoking reductions of about 24 per cent, while Queens trailed slightly. Brooklyn came in second to last, with a quit rate of only 13 per cent.
On August 21, the Health Department began a nicotine-replacement giveaway program aimed specifically at Staten Islanders. The 5-week giveaway and associated media campaign will run Tuesdays through Thursdays at the Staten Island Ferry’s Whitehall Terminal.
Men still lead women in smoking, 20 per cent to 15 per cent overall, but the report claims that quit rates are similar for both sexes. Low-income adults and adults without a high school education are more likely to attempt quitting by a slight margin, but less likely to be successful per attempt. One important side note: A separate analysis of survey data showed that only 11 per cent of heavy drinkers who smoke were able to quit in the past year.
The average pack-a-day smoker now spends $2,500 a year to support his or her habit. Health officials stressed that the use of nicotine replacement, either as patches or gum, along with anti-craving medications like Zyban and Chantix, can at least double a smoker’s chances of successfully getting free.
Information in the report was gathered through a random telephone survey of 10,000 adult New Yorkers.
Image courtesy of the National Library of Medicine.