60-Second Science

New York City's Big Smoking Decline

Between 2002 and 2006, New York City's rate of smokers went down by 20 percent. Analysts credit tobacco taxes, workplace smoking prohibitions and a major ad campaign. Steve Mirsky reports. For more info, go to

You know there’s a zillion reasons not to smoke.  Here’s one more.  A new study in the Journal of Orthopaedic Research found that smoking interferes with ligament healing after injury.  Anyway, one place where people apparently are getting the no smoking message is New York City.  Between 2002 and 2006, the city saw its smoking rate go down by 20 percent.  That’s about a quarter million fewer smoking New Yorkers.  That left only 17.5 percent of the city still smoking, which is a lower rate than 45 states have. 

All these figures appear in an article in the newest issue of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Report.  It’s available online at

What prompted the decline?  After a decade-long lack of progress, in 2002 the city increased the tobacco tax, prohibited smoking in most workplaces and launched a major ad campaign.  Although the Bronx, Manhattan and Queens have all seen more than a 20 percent drop in smoking, Staten Island’s rate remained virtually unchanged.  Well, a lot of people think Staten Island should really be part of New Jersey.  

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