New York's Youth Smoking Decline Fuels Drop in Adult Smoking

ALBANY, N.Y. (July 1, 2011) - The New York State Department of Health (DOH) today reported that a significant decline in youth smoking over the last decade is expected to reduce both smoking among adults and smoking-related health care costs in the future.

The report entitled Youth Prevention and Adult Smoking in New York noted that smoking rates over the last decade decreased nearly 70 percent for middle school students and by more than 50 percent for high school students. DOH estimates that the significant reduction in smoking among young adults to date will reduce future health care costs in New York State by approximately $5 billion.

"Smoking is a terrible addiction, and most smokers become addicted to cigarettes before age 18," said State Health Commissioner Nirav R. Shah, M.D., M.P.H. "Preventing children from ever starting to smoke not only offers individuals better quality of life as adults, but is easier and less expensive than treating their addiction to tobacco and tobacco-related diseases when they grow older."

Currently, medical costs incurred from smoking in New York State total $8 billion annually.

According to the report, between 2000 and 2010 smoking rates declined by 68 percent among New York middle school students and by 54 percent among high school students. In 2010, only 3.2 percent of New York middle school students and 12.6 percent of high school students were smokers.

Additionally, between 2000 and 2010, smoking rates dropped by 30 percent for young adults and by 16 percent for all adults.

"New York has done a great job changing the social norms around smoking," said Commissioner Shah. "The drop in youth smoking corresponds with the development of the department's Tobacco Control Program in 2000. Today's children – and adults – have benefitted from more than a decade of tobacco prevention strategies and effective policy interventions."

"This report shows that we are clearly on the path to ending the tobacco problem in New York State," said DOH's Tobacco Control Program Director Jeffrey Willett, Ph.D. "If current trends continue, smoking will become a public health nuisance rather than our state's leading cause of preventable death."

The report entitled Youth Prevention and Adult Smoking in New York, can be found at: (PDF, 282KB, 9pg.)

New Yorkers who want help quitting can call the Smokers' Quitline at 1-866-NY-QUITS (1-866-697-8487) or go to for free assistance.