Teen Smoking on the Decline in New York City
> 1/3/2008 12:16:06 PM

New information released yesterday from the 2007 New York City Youth Risk Behavior Survey has provided good news for New Yorkers. The number of New York City public high school students who smoke continues to decline and has fallen faster than the smoking rate for New York City adults. Between 2001 and 2007, the number of New York City adults who smoke fell by 20%, while the number of New York City teens who smoke fell by 52%, dropping from 17.6% in 2001 to 8.5% in 2007. The most recent national rate for teen smoking is 23%. The city has also closed a gender gap that had been present in previous years. In 2005, 10.5% of teenaged boys and 12% of teenaged girls reported smoking, but those rates have now fallen to 8.3% for boys and 8.6% for girls.

Health officials and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg have attributed the decline to New York's aggressive stance against smoking, including a high tax on cigarettes, which has increased over the past few years and now totals $3 per pack. The tax has prevented many, especially teens, from being able to afford cigarettes, and the city has also strengthened its efforts to prevent the sale of tobacco products to minors. In addition, public service announcements appearing on TV and in the subways have illustrated the effects smoking has on health, while a ban on smoking in workplaces, restaurants, and bars has further discouraged New Yorkers of all ages from lighting up.

Since the 1990s, the number of U.S. teens smoking has declined overall, and while efforts to reduce the prevalence of smoking appear to be working throughout the country, researchers continue to demonstrate the harmful consequences of smoking, especially for a still-developing body. A recent study led by Dr. Leslie Jacobsen of the Yale University School of Medicine indicates that the adolescent brain may be particularly vulnerable to the effects of nicotine. The researchers examined brain development of children aged 13 to 18 and found that those who smoked or were exposed to smoke in the home had more white matter, which transmits signals between brain cells. Previous studies have shown that when too much white matter is present, the brain has difficulty sending signals to the ear and interpreting sound. Tests revealed that the teens who had been exposed to smoke, and especially those who were smokers themselves, had more trouble hearing sounds while distracted, and boys were more likely to have problems hearing than girls. The researchers emphasize that this kind of hearing problem can interfere with concentration and exacerbate already-existing behavioral problems.

Research detailing the harmful effects of smoking has accumulated over the years, and more and more U.S. states have put smoking bans in place. On Wednesday, France joined the growing list of European countries taking steps to make public places smoke-free. The results detailed by the New York City Youth Risk Behavior Survey are promising and indicate that these efforts to discourage smoking and prevent minors from buying tobacco products are effective. Ultimately, quitting is the only way for smokers to ensure their health as well as the health of their children.

No comments yet.

Post Your Comments

Post a comment
Email Address:
Verification Code:
Input the 8 characters you see above:


Drug Abuse
Sexual Addiction
Eating Disorders
Alzheimer's Disease

About TOL | Contact Us | Defining Behavioral Fitness | For Healthcare Professionals | Links | Privacy Policy