Statewide smoking levels have hit a historic low in New York, according to numbers released by the state, which show the smoking rate for adults is down to 14.5%.
ALBANY — New Yorkers are butting out.
Statewide smoking levels have dropped to a historic low, according to data released Monday by the state.
Over the past four years, smoking among high school students dropped 42%, with the rate now just 7.2%, the data show.
The adult smoking rate is now 14.5%.
The national average is 17.8%.
“With the lowest smoking rate in recorded history, it’s clear that New York State is becoming healthier than ever,” Gov. Cuomo said.
The statewide drop comes even as smoking has been on the rise in the city after years of decline.
The city’s rate was 16% in 2013, up from a low of 14% in 2010. The city stats showed more than 1 million in the city were smokers, the first time the number has hit seven figures since 2007.
Experts credited New York’s nation-high tobacco taxes as a reason for the statewide rate drop.
Other factors cited include anti-smoking ads, laws and programs.
The state Department of Health announced it has received two federal grants totaling more than $ 10 million for its anti-smoking efforts.
“This is a huge accomplishment in which we should all take pride, but our work is not done,” said state Health Commissioner Howard Zucker. “We must stay vigilant.”
Audrey Silk, founder of the New York City-based Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment, questioned the validity of the state stats.
“None of them are reliable,” Silk said. “I can’t say what the rate is, but neither can they.”
Meanwhile, anti-smoking groups praised the drop but said much more needs to be done, particularly with the increase in e-cigarette usage.
Bill Sherman, of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, called for passage of a bill that would include e-cigarettes in the statewide smoking ban in public places.
“Action must be taken now to prevent people from being exposed to the unknown dangers of e-cigarettes,” Sherman said.
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