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Percentage of New Yorkers who smoke drops to historic low

A woman smokes in New York City in

A woman smokes in New York City in this undated photo. Photo Credit: istockphoto

The state announced Monday that smoking levels in New York have dropped to the lowest rate "in recorded history."

The rate of adults smoking in 2014 fell to 14.5 percent, from 16.6 percent in 2013. Nationwide, 17.8 percent of adults smoked in 2013, the latest numbers available from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The smoking rate among high school students dropped from 11.9 percent in 2012 to 7.3 percent in 2014, the state said. Nationwide last year, 9.2 percent of teens reported smoking, according to the CDC.

"With the lowest smoking rate in recorded history, it's clear that New York State is becoming healthier than ever," Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said in a statement.

Harlan Juster, director of the state's Bureau of Tobacco Control, said the data are part of an annual survey that will be released in a full report later this year. He said the state has been collecting data on smoking since 1985, when smoking rates were 31 percent among adults.

According to the latest statistics, a higher proportion of males in the state smoke than females: 17.1 percent of males versus 12.1 percent of females. And blacks have the highest percentage of smokers: 16.1 percent, compared with 15.1 percent of whites and 14.1 percent of Hispanics.

Juster attributed the overall decline to "strong, comprehensive policies," including smoke-free laws, high taxes on cigarettes, campaigns to prevent tobacco use and services available to help people quit smoking.

Bill Sherman, vice president of government relations of the Eastern Division of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, praised the decline, but called on state lawmakers to pass a bill pending in both houses that bans smoking e-cigarettes in the same places smoking is prohibited.

According to a CDC report published in April, e-cigarette use tripled last year among middle and high school students, from 4.5 percent in 2013, to 13.4 percent in 2014.


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