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The smoking rates in NYC have dropped to a record 14%, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said according to a statement released on September 15. The drop comes off the heels of a controversial ban on smoking outside on New York’s streets and in parks.
The smoking ban went into effect last May. The goal was to reduce litter and exposure to second hand smoke. According to the American Lung Association second hand smoke is responsible for 50,000 deaths a year and is the cause of other health issues such as asthma and lung cancer.
The smoking ban split New Yorkers up into groups of people who prefer the ban and those who feel the ban is unconstitutional because people have the right to smoke. Those for the ban feel that if a smoker has the right to smoke, then a non-smoker has the right not to be forced to inhale second hand smoke.
According to a statement Mayor Bloomberg made back in May when signing the ban into law, “Creating smoke-free parks and beaches makes sense for many reasons. The ban will not only save residents from the harm of secondhand smoke, but also keep city parks and beaches clean of cigarette butt litter.”
After the initial concern over the ban, New Yorkers seemed mostly to forget about it. Smokers were still allowed to enjoy a cigarette in their homes, cars and other private facilities; however, the news of the rate of adult smokers dropping to 14% has put the ban right back to the front of people’s minds.
New Yorkers have returned to their initial question of rights. If the mayor is allowed to restrict smoking, what else will he be allowed to restrict?
It is also possible that the reduction in NYC smoking rate is partially due to the steep price of cigarettes: $14.50 a pack. Many New Yorkers head into New Jersey to buy their smokes at a reduced price.
Combined with the smoking ban in restaurants and bars, and now the parks, it is possible that the 14% drop is a product of resourceful politicians. According to Bloomberg Businessweek the goal is to have smoking down to 12% by next year.