June 8, 2015
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Announces New York's Smoking Rates Reduced to Lowest Levels in Recorded State History

Governor Cuomo Announces New York's Smoking Rates Reduced to Lowest Levels in Recorded State History

New Federal Grants Will Bolster State's Proven Tobacco Cessation Strategies

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that statewide smoking levels have been reduced to the lowest rate in recorded history as a result of the state’s wide-ranging tobacco cessation efforts. Data shows that in the last four years, the smoking rate among high school students has dropped 42 percent and now remains at 7.3 percent, while the adult smoking rate has dropped to 14.5 percent and remains below the national average of 17.8 percent.

“With the lowest smoking rate in recorded history, it’s clear that New York State is becoming healthier than ever,” Governor Cuomo said. “I am proud of these record results, and our administration will continue to build on this success to protect our citizens and support the public health.”

The reduction in smoking rates can be attributed to the efforts of New York’s Tobacco Control Program, the New York State Prevention Agenda 2013-17 (New York’s official health blueprint) and the state’s Comprehensive Cancer Control Plan. These programs focused on evidence-based strategies to promote tobacco cessation through launching aggressive public awareness campaigns, promoting policy solutions to make tobacco less accessible to youth, and widening the availability of resources for individuals looking to break this addiction.

New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said, “Thanks to New York State’s aggressive and multi-faceted cessation efforts, our smoking rates have shrunk to their lowest levels in recorded history. This is a huge accomplishment in which we should all take pride, but our work is not done. We must stay vigilant and continue strengthening our efforts until we can rid New York of tobacco once and for all.”

The Department of Health will continue to strengthen its efforts to achieve a tobacco-free New York, with the funding of two new grants totaling more than $10 million from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The first award of $9.29 million over five years will support the Tobacco Control Program’s three-pronged, evidence based approach to tobacco cessation. This approach includes local contractors who educate community and local leaders about the continuing burden of tobacco and potential policy solutions, health systems contractors who work across the state to increase and improve the delivery of evidence-based tobacco dependence treatment and paid media that motivates smokers to quit and changes social norms.

Additionally, New York State was one of only five states to be awarded $1 million dollars over two years for an innovative project to implement and evaluate a media campaign aimed directly at health care providers who work with people with poor mental health, low incomes or low educational attainment, and who smoke at higher rates than the general public. The campaign will encourage providers to treat tobacco use for their patients, use evidence-based methods such as counseling and approved medications, and increase provider confidence in delivering this necessary treatment.

Medicaid and NY State of Health qualified health plans cover tobacco cessation services for beneficiaries who smoke or use other tobacco products. For information on or assistance in quitting tobacco use, talk to your health care provider or contact the New York State Smokers’ Quitline. The Quitline is a free and confidential service that provides effective quit coaching and services to New Yorkers who want to stop using tobacco. Call the Quitline at 1-866-NY-QUITS (1-866-697-8487) or visit www.NYSmokeFree.com to learn more.

More information about New York's Tobacco Control Program is available here.

Contact the Governor's Press Office

NYC Press Office:  212.681.4640

Albany Press Office:  518.474.8418