News & Politics

Teen Smoking Down in State: In City, Maybe Not So Much


The New York Post reports that, per a state DOH study, teen smoking in New York State “has declined more than 2 percent since 2005.”

How many of these are city teens, we don’t know. But we’d been wondering about this since last week’s Clinton Global Initiative, when Mayor Bloomberg said that “nobody smokes in the city, or very few people smoke,” and that teen smoking had been reduced by fifty percent.

Earlier this year the city’s own survey had said teen smoking had indeed dropped by half — since 2001. The 2001 study group, however, has probably aged out of their teen years, and the same report also says that the rate of decline between 2005 and 2007 was only 20 percent.

Unless there’s been a huge teen population explosion (and that’s not likely), this would suggest that the effect of New York’s incessant hectoring — amputated limbs and so forth — is actually diminishing.

Now we hear the whole state’s teen smoking has gone down only two to three percent in the last few years. As we have seen our teen smoking decline is itself declining, it’s possible that the tobacco cessation of a few upstate youngsters — whether through abstinence, or because they died in tractor accidents or their local general store would no longer accept food stamps for Marlboros — accounts for much of the drop. But even if city kids did all the quitting, as the city accounts for about 40 percent of the state’s population, that still ain’t much.

This is only anecdotal evidence, but in our experience teenagers really don’t like to be lectured and will sometimes react in counterproductive ways.

Photo via Liz Henry (cc)

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