New York City Coalition for a Smoke-Free City: Over the past 50 years, tobacco control advocates in the United States have made incredible strides in informing the public about the dangers of tobacco use, limiting underage access to tobacco products, and protecting non-smokers from the dangers of secondhand smoke. New York City has been a leader on this issue, enacting the Smoke-Free Air Act in 2003 to ensure that all New Yorkers can have access to smoke-free air where they live, work, and play and, just last year, limiting youth access to tobacco products and electronic cigarettes by raising the legal age to purchase them from 18 to 21. Today, tobacco control advocates in New York City continue their efforts to build on these accomplishments and raise a smoke-free generation in NYC.
One of the biggest current challenges for the tobacco control movement in New York City is the growing popularity of electronic cigarettes and hookahs, especially among teens. A recent CDC study found that e-cigarette use among middle and high school students had tripled between 2013 and 2014 and hookah use doubled. E-cigarettes and hookahs have become two top ways for high school students to be exposed to the addictive effects of nicotine. Whether through cigarettes, cigars, or e-cigarettes, nicotine is dangerous for kids of any age.
NYC Smoke-Free, a program of Public Health Solutions, has been among the organizations leading the charge against the marketing of tobacco products to youth. In a recent Wall Street Journal Letter to the Editor, NYC Smoke-Free Director Patrick Kwan notes the dangers of this new trend, saying, “We don’t need another generation of smokers, and we certainly don’t need more ways for kids and teenagers to be exposed to and hooked on nicotine.” NYC Smoke-Free has also emphasized the importance of keeping tobacco products away from youth with stricter point-of-sale regulations. “Candy bars and tobacco products like cigarettes and e-cigarettes don’t belong together,” notes Kwan. “The more youth are exposed to tobacco marketing…the more likely they are to smoke cigarettes or use e-cigarettes.”
While New York City policy makers and community organizations have made incredible progress in their fight to keep tobacco products out of the hands of children and to ensure that all New Yorkers have smoke-free air in their workplaces, public parks, and beaches, local businesses have also done their part. NYC Smoke-Free has worked with a number of real estate companies and landlords in the city to enact voluntary smoke-free housing rules in their complexes; to date, 2200 units in the city are smoke-free. Local businesses with courtyards, parking lots, and other large outdoor spaces are also working with NYC Smoke-Free to implement smoke-free policies to protect their workers and visitors from secondhand smoke. As more businesses join in the fight for every New Yorker’s right to breathe clean, smoke−free air where they live, work, and play, the city moves one step closer to a future free f rom the dangers of tobacco and nicotine use.
NYC Smoke-Free, 40 Worth Street, 5th Floor, New York, NY 10013, Tel: 646-619-6400
A program of Public Health Solutions