(Updates with comment from mayor in third paragraph.)
Sept. 15 (Bloomberg) -- New York’s adult smoking rate fell to record low of 14 percent in 2010, said Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has led the city’s effort to curb tobacco use for the past nine years.
The rate dropped from 22 percent in 2002, meaning about 450,000 fewer people are smoking, the mayor said. New York’s rate among high school students dropped to 7 percent last year from 18 percent in 2001, as the U.S. rate fell to 19 percent from 29 percent, he said. The smoking decline will translate to 50,000 deaths prevented by 2052, Bloomberg said.
“New York City for an awful lot of people sets the style -- people copy New York City,” Bloomberg, who quit smoking about 30 years ago, said today at a press conference in Queens. “So the fact that we’ve made all this progress here really will help the entire country.”
Bloomberg, 69, has made the battle against smoking a hallmark of his mayoral tenure. In 2002, he worked with the City Council to ban smoking in offices, bars and restaurants. He also rolled out a media campaign with graphic depictions of the harmful effects of smoking, cracked down on illegal cigarette sales and increased tobacco taxes. In May, the city extended the smoking ban to parks, beaches and pedestrian plazas.
The efforts coincide with the city’s other health initiatives, such as reducing sodium content in foods and increasing access to fresh fruits and vegetables in low-income neighborhoods.
New York, the most-populous U.S. city, with 8.2 million residents, is seeking to lower the adult smoking rate to 12 percent by next year, Health Commissioner Thomas Farley told reporters at the press briefing. Staten Island remains the borough with the highest smoking rate, he said. Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in New York, Bloomberg said.
The mayor is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.
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