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New York State Smoking Rate at All-Time Low

New York State Department of Health

It appears fewer adults in New York State are smoking these days, in fact, fewer than ever. The State Health department tracked smokers from 2011 to 2016, and found the rate has declined by 22 percent to just 14.2 percent. That is below the national average. Dr. Beth Gero is from the CNY Regional Center for Tobacco Health Systems at St. Joseph’s Health Center. She said some areas in Upstate New York have not seen that steep of a decline in adult smokers.

"To see this decline, we're very excited about. But I do have to say, there's still so much more work to do, especially in the rural areas of New York State and in our areas. The rural towns where, you know, you come to a stoplight and everybody’s got a cigarette in their car. You see it.”

Credit Center for Disease Control and Prevention

Gero pointed to employment in rural areas, working outside versus in an office or a school, as a potential factor. She said low income residents who live near Native American reservations where cigarettes are sold cheaper also contributes to a higher smoking rate. After more than two decades of smoking, she found a way out.

"We have great resources. We have great education. We offer training. And talk to their doctors. We do know now with research, if they talk to their doctors, they are more likely to be able to quit successfully."

Dr. Gero added there are a combination of ways to get started for smokers to kick their habit.

"With cessation medications, talking to their healthcare provider, and the quit lines as well as, you know, cessation work groups."

Dr. Gero explains what happens at cessation meetings.

Gero also expressed concerns about State Health Department statistics that show the number of high school students using e-cigarettes slightly more than doubled in two years to 20.6 percent in 2016. The New York State Smokers Quit line is 1-866-N-Y-QUITS.

John Smith has been waking up WAER listeners for a long time as our Local Co-Host of Morning Edition with timely news and information, working alongside student Sportscasters from the Newhouse School.