Report Cites Major Reduction in Teenage Smoking

Albany, N.Y. (August 30, 2007) - A report released today by the New York State Department of Health documents a reduction of almost 45 percent in youth smoking statewide since 2000, the year that New York began implementing a comprehensive tobacco control program.

"Since the majority of people who become regular cigarette smokers begin during adolescence, the results of this youth survey are very encouraging," said State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D. "Governor Spitzer and I are committed to even stronger smoking prevention efforts as we go forward."

Governor Eliot Spitzer included $85.5 million in state funding in the budget this year for tobacco prevention efforts and directed the Department of Health to conduct the strongest anti-smoking campaign possible to reduce the heavy toll that tobacco use takes on the health of New Yorkers. The state receives an additional $1.7 million in federal funding.

The Youth Tobacco Survey is taken in even-numbered years among middle school and high school students and reflects trends from 2000 to 2006. Among all middle and high school youth, the prevalence of smoking in 2000 was 19.4 percent. This rate decreased to 10.4 percent in 2006, a 44.8 percent reduction.

"New York's approach to preventing and reducing youth tobacco use has been validated by these findings," said Ursula E. Bauer, Ph.D., M.P.H., director of the State's Tobacco Control Program. "While declines in youth cigarette use in the rest of the country have leveled off or reversed, New York's rates continue a steep decline. We know that tobacco use by young people occurs in a family and community context. By reducing adult tobacco use and dismantling the community supports for tobacco use, we have a direct and lasting impact on our youth."

The State's program takes a broad-based approach to tobacco use prevention, including:

  • Community mobilization to change individuals' attitudes about tobacco and de-normalize tobacco use.
  • Media and counter-marketing to promote quitting, highlight dangers of second-hand smoke, expose tobacco industry propaganda, and de-glamorize tobacco use.
  • Cessation interventions to motivate tobacco users to quit and to support cessation efforts.
  • Enforcement of the law prohibiting the sale of tobacco products to minors.

New York State is on track to achieve the national Healthy People 2010 goals in these areas:

  • Among high school students in the state, 16.3 percent report having smoked one or more cigarettes in the past 30 days; the Healthy People 2010 goal is 16 percent.
  • The use of any tobacco products (cigarettes, cigars, smokeless and other tobacco products) by high school students in 2006 was 21.8 percent; the Healthy People 2010 goal is 21 percent.

Other highlights of the 2006 New York youth survey:

  • Among high school students, non-Hispanic whites smoked at a higher rate, 20.1 percent, than non-Hispanic blacks, 7.9 percent, or Hispanics, 13.4 percent.
  • The use of smokeless tobacco products in the state has not changed since 2000. In 2006, 1.7 percent of middle school students and 3.2 percent of high school students used smokeless tobacco.
  • Cigars are the second most commonly used tobacco product by these students, with reported use by 8.5 percent of high school students and 2.8 percent of middle school students.

Each year, cigarette smoking kills 25,000 New Yorkers and is a major cause of serious chronic diseases affecting 500,000 New Yorkers, including cancer, heart disease, and asthma.

The Youth Tobacco Survey report is available on the Department's Web site