Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Wednesday celebrated the 10-year anniversary of New York City’s Smoke-Free Air Act with an impact report touting the city's resident life expectancy now at 80.9 years, an all-time high.
According to the report, an estimated 10,000 premature smoking-related deaths have been prevented among New Yorkers since the legislation was passed.
“Ten years ago when New York City prohibited smoking in restaurants and bars, many predicted the end of the hospitality, restaurant and tourism industries,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Yet ten years later, fewer New Yorkers are smoking, we are living longer, our industries are thriving and nobody longs for a return to smoke-filled bars and restaurants."
New York City's major smoking reduction initiatives since 2002:
- 2002: Tobacco Control becomes a public health priority for the administration, which introduces a comprehensive plan that addresses legislation, taxation, cessation, education and evaluating the impact of interventions.
- 2002: Smoke-Free Air Act is introduced by City Council, State and City cigarette tax increases go into effect, making New York City's cigarette pack the most expensive in the nation.
- 2003: Smoke-Free Air Act goes into effect - all NYC bars and restaurants are smoke-free.
- 2004: City begins distributing nicotine replacement therapy to New Yorkers who want to quit though giveaways.
- 2006 - present: Smoking cessation is promoted through hard-hitting media campaigns.
- 2009: Smoke-Free Air Act expanded to prohibit smoking on or around grounds and entrances of health care facilities. Graphic health warning signs are required in all tobacco retailers (later overturned by court ruling) and flavored tobacco products (non-cigarette) are prohibited.
- 2011: Smoking prohibited in parks, beaches and pedestrian plazas.
- 2013: Legislation introduced to prohibit the display of tobacco products and decrease access to cheap and illegal cigarettes.
“The Smoke-Free Air Act has not only saved thousands of lives, it has fundamentally changed the way New Yorkers view smoking,” said city Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley. “This single law has protected workers, but more important, it has made smoking socially unacceptable. Hundreds of thousands of smokers have quit, and the rest are smoking fewer cigarettes per day. And no one wants to bring back second-hand smoke in restaurants and bars."
Bloomberg said that New York City’s public health innovations have been, and will continue to be, a model for the rest of the world.