Turns out, New York City is still coughing through a cloud of tobacco smoke. A new survey conducted by the New York City Independent Budget Office found that city spending on anti-smoking programs “varied widely in recent years—and that after trending downward the local adult smoking rate has been increasing.”
The IBO credited NYC anti-smoking campaigns and higher taxes with initially lowering the city’s smoking rate in a period when the national smoking average slightly increased. “In 2010, the city’s smoking rate fell to 14.0 percent, a 15-year low and 5.3 percentage points below the U.S. rate,” the report states.
But as less money became allotted for specific anti-smoking measures, that dynamic quickly began to falter.
The report found:
After 2010, smoking rates in the city began to rise, reaching 16.1 percent in 2013 (the latest data available), just 1.7 percentage points below the U.S. rate. The increase in the city’s smoking rate occurred in tandem with declines in spending on tobacco control programs. City spending on antismoking campaigns in 2011-2014 averaged about a third less than during the 2007-2010 peak spending period.
Based on the IBO’s research, it seems like increased city spending on these anti-tobacco programs really does have an effect on the smoking habits of New Yorkers, even if the average pack of cigarettes in New York City is astonishingly expensive. And the current fiscal budget allotment for 2015 looks kind of grim as far as healthy-living is concerned, as the report states, “with $5 million budgeted for tobacco control in the current fiscal year, less than half the amount spent in 2014, there is concern that the smoking rate could continue to rise.”
Follow Sam Blum on Twitter @Blumnessmonster