New York City’s Smoking Rate On the Rise

A new report finds that, even as healthcare experts press people to stop smoking cigarettes, smoking rates are on the rise in New York City. According to the New York City Department of Health, for the first time in seven years there are now more than one million smokers living in the Big Apple.

It’s the first time since 2007 that so many smokers have lived in the city, which currently has a population of roughly 8.5 million. That means about 16 per cent of New Yorkers are now smokers. It’s a substantial increase from 2010, when only 14 per cent of New York City residents reported smoking on a regular basis.

Four years ago health officials hoped the smoking rate, which has never dipped below 14 per cent, would continue to decline. But this most recent finding suggests that’s not the case.

For their part, health officials are not giving up. In fact, they’re about to launch a massive anti-smoking advertising campaign known as “Imagine for Life”. Sponsored by New York City mayor Bill de Blasio, the campaign focuses in on how smoking affects the body, including the lungs, heart, teeth, and skin.

De Blasio is hardly the first mayor to try and lower New York’s smoking rate. His predecessor, Michael Bloomberg, launched a similar campaign during his tenure (2002-2013). In fact, Bloomberg’s plan involved banning smoking in public places, including bars and restaurants.

While smoking rates have been dropping across the United States for decades, New York is hardly the only place where you can find smokers. Recent studies have found that the number of tobacco shops in America has doubled, from about 4,500 in 1998 to 9,000 in 2012 — despite the fact that the share of Americans who smoke fell from 23.5 per cent in 1999 to 19 per cent in 2011.

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