This week marks the 10 year anniversary of New York s indoor smoking ban. According to Blair Horner, vice president of advocacy at the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, The passage of New York State s Clean Indoor Air Act was a historic moment for public health.
Despite initial opposition from some businesses - as voiced in the article by Scott Wexler, executive director of the Empire State Restaurant and Tavern Association and not the most appropriate person to be quoted extensively in this article according to some by 2005, about 80 percent of New Yorkers supported the law, smokers included. And the Health Department found that the ban had either no impact or a positive impact on businesses.
Not only are people no longer exposed to secondhand smoke in indoor environments, but between 1999 and 2009, the rate of smoking among New York adults fell from 22 percent to 17 percent and an increasing number of current smokers are seeking to quit the habit. However, 25,000 New York adults continue to die each year from smoking, and 389,000 kids will die prematurely from smoking. New York state won a battle against Big Tobacco on this front, but the war is far from over, says Horner.
ACSH s Dr. Gilbert Ross agrees. While the ongoing decline in smoking rates is important, and the increase in smokers who desire to quit is a major advance, it s a shame that the approved methods to help them are largely ineffective. There should be more emphasis on tobacco harm reduction methods for helping addicted smokers quit. As I ve said before, the rise of e-cigarettes could very well be the next public health miracle if regulators would embrace them. Only this week the cigarette sales of yet another big tobacco company was reported as in significant decline, which I believe is due in part to smokers finding reduced harm methods that are effective.