Continued New York smoking rate decline: But how did it happen?

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ByeBye-cigs-Hello-e-cigs-225x130The adult smoking rate in New York State has declined to near-historic lows, according to a press release from the office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo. According to the new report, the rate now is down to 14.5 percent (the national rate is 17.8 percent, according to the CDC). Even better news: the teen smoking rate is down to a new low: only 7.4 percent of NYS s high school students reported smoking (it is not completely clear whose data are being cited: of interest, neither the NYS Dept. of Health s site nor that of Health Commissioner Howard Zucker have anything about this, other than referring to the Cuomo announcement). That figure is down by 42 percent from 4 years ago.

The Governor attributed the decline to be a result of the state s wide-ranging tobacco cessation efforts. These included 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.

All may not be so rosy as posited by the Governor. Surely the decline as measured, by whomever, is a salutary continuation of a decades-long trend. But the reliability of the data is of course suspect, no matter who compiled them. That s because of the uniquely high cigarette taxes smokers pay or avoid paying in our state. Cigarette smuggling has been well-known to be a lucrative operation, with anywhere from 30 to 65 percent of cigarettes smoked in New York (the higher numbers reflect NYC s confiscatory tax rate) being undocumented : untaxed and uncounted.

And then, there s this commentary by one of the reliable anti-tobacco nonprofits, whose main raison d etre these days seems to be not anti-smoking, but rather anti-e-cigarette propaganda. The Cancer Action Network of the American Cancer Society issued this view of the new report s statistics:

Despite this success the fight against tobacco is not won. In April, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that electronic cigarette use among youth has more than tripled in one year. This further bolsters our call to both houses of the state legislature to pass legislation (A.5955-A, Rosenthal and S.2202-A, Hannon) that would regulate the public use of e-cigarettes and for Governor Cuomo to sign it into law this week. This bill prohibits smoking e-cigarettes in the same venues smoking is currently prohibited.

While we are pleased to learn of the latest cigarette smoking statistics the fight is not over. Action must be taken now to prevent people from being exposed to the unknown dangers of e-cigarettes and to prevent the addiction of more people, including our teenagers, to deadly nicotine and exposure to known carcinogens. This legislation is on the Senate Floor and is on today s Assembly Codes Committee agenda for advancement. The legislature and governor must protect the health of New Yorkers by enacting this legislation this session.
So, you see, according to the corrupt, Big Pharma-sponsored ACS, the enemy remains e-cigarettes! Isn t it obvious? But wait: IF e-cigs were in fact contributing to the addiction of more people, including our teenagers, shouldn t the rise in vaping which is a fact, whatever the degree of actual increase have led to an increase in teen smoking, not its opposite? Instead of twisting and turning to attribute the decline in smoking to the comprehensive approach to tobacco control which includes smoke-free laws, regular and significant tobacco tax increases and a robust tobacco prevention and cessation program works, in fact the only new impact on smokers happens to be the rapid increase in use of e-cigs/vapor products, which is likely to be the gateway out of lethal addictive cigarettes for adults as well as teen smokers.