Here are some indisputable facts:
- New York City (NYC) is one of the biggest, most urban cities in the US.
- Only five US states have a lower rate of smokers.
- NYC was ranked 60th in a list of 100 worst places in the US for asthmatics.
So, how is it that such a large, densely populated city is not also one of the worst places for people with asthma to live?
Well, many factors went into that list of 100 cities mentioned above, but one thing NYC has done right over the past few years is launch a successful anti-smoking campaign.
Tobacco is the leading preventable cause of death in the U.S. today. Not only is smoking unhealthy for the heart and circulatory system, it is also a major risk factor — even via secondhand exposure — for asthma and triggering asthma symptoms.
So, in 2002, NYC initiated a five-point anti-smoking campaign, which included:
- An increase in taxes on tobacco
- Smoke-free workplace laws
- Public and health care provider education initiatives
- Offering quit smoking programs
- Evaluation and assessment via telephone surveys
Although there was some improvement within the first three years, with 200,000 less smokers at the end of that time, in 2005, there was no improvement. Clearly, further action was needed.
In 2006, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene launched an extensive, television-based anti-tobacco media campaign. The TV spots showed graphic images of the health effects from smoking.
The result? In 2006, smoking prevalence declined significantly, particularly among men and Hispanics. Overall, from 2002 to 2006, the smoking prevalence rate in NYC dropped nearly 20 percent.