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Bloomy in LIC praises decline in city smoking

TimesLedger Newspapers

While Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s anti-smoking policies have been criticized as draconian, he declared them a success on a visit to the city Department of Health in Long Island City, saying the number of adult smokers is at an all-time low of 14 percent.

“We’re proud that a record number of New Yorkers are saving their own lives by quitting,” Bloomberg said in a statement.

The mayor touted the decline in smoking residents early last Thursday at the DOH’s headquarters at 42-09 28th St. Bloomberg said the number of adult residents who smoke has decreased by 35 percent since 2002, the year the mayor’s Smoke Free Air Act was passed by the City Council. In that year, the number of smokers in the city was at a high of 22 out of every 100 residents.

Bloomberg said the decreases were the largest among teens and in the borough of Staten Island.

“It is promising to see so many are learning to conquer this bad habit so they can live longer and be more prosperous,” said state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria), whose district encompasses the Health Department building, in a statement.

The mayor’s office credited the drop to the myriad programs the Bloomberg administration have instituted, the linchpin of which has been the Smoke Free Air Act. When introduced in 2002, the law banned smoking in all workplaces, most significantly bars and restaurants. In 2009, the ban was expanded to the entrances and grounds of hospitals, and since May the ban now applies to public parks, beaches and pedestrian plazas. The act has enjoyed support, but also received criticism from restaurant owners.

The office said other programs the Bloomberg administration has introduced to curb smoking include public education campaigns; the point of sale warning signs of tobacco use, which often show pictures of the damage caused to different parts of the body by tobacco; banning the sale of tobacco to minors; cracking down on illegal cigarette sales; and electronic health records, which has led to an increase in screening and treating tobacco use.

Dr. Thomas Farley, commissioner of the DOH, echoed the sentiment that the decrease was due to the mayor’s policies.

“This progress didn’t just happen,” Farley said in a statement. “It is the result of deliberate steps taken by the mayor and City Council since 2002.”

The mayor’s office recommended those interested in quitting smoking join the NYC Quits Facebook page at facebook.com/nycquits. The office also suggested calling 311 or visiting nyc.gov for help quitting smoking.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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