Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that the adult smoking rate has fallen to the lowest in New York State’s recorded history as a result of the state’s wide-ranging tobacco cessation and prevention efforts. The statewide adult smoking rate is 14.2 percent as of 2016, a 22 percent decline from 2011 and below the national average of 15.5 percent.
“These record lows demonstrate that New York’s anti-smoking efforts are working,” said Governor Cuomo. “Reducing smoking — and the death and misery that come with it — is critical to protecting public health and we will continue our work to create a safer and healthier New York for all.”
Unfortunately, in Allegany County much has not changed with its adult smoking rate, which is still more than 28 percent. A high smoking rate has led to cancer as the chief cause of death in Allegany County, closely followed by heart disease, stroke, and lower respiratory disease. The one thing that all of these causes of death have in common is that they can all be associated with tobacco use. The Allegany Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, Inc.(ACASA) at (585) 593-1920 x713, offers free cessation classes and nicotine replacement therapy products. Also, the New York State Smokers’ Quitline is a free service for smokers and can be reached at 1-866-697-8487. It is never too late for a person to quit smoking and take back his/her health from tobacco use.
Governor Cuomo previously announced that the high school student smoking rate fell to an historic low of 4.3 percent in 2016, down from 27.1 percent in 2000. More bad news for Allegany County as the high school student smoking rate of 8.2 percent is almost double the state average. However, the Department of Health also found that e-cigarette use by high school students increased from 10.5 percent in 2014 to 20.6 percent in 2016. More positive news is that Allegany County’s high school student use of e-cigarettes is13.9 percent, which is lower than the state average. This low rate could be connected to the existence of “only” two vape stores in Allegany County, but most convenience stores and chain stores, such as Dollar General, sell e-cigarette devices. In 2017, Governor Cuomo signed legislation banning the use of e-cigarettes on school grounds and adding e-cigarettes to New York’s Clean Indoor Air Act.
Overall, 24.5 percent of Allegany County high school students indicated that they used some form of tobacco product. The use of any tobacco product can lead to severe health issues in the future. Tobacco use is attributed to 40 percent of all cancers diagnosed in the United States. In order to combat the high tobacco use rated among the young people of Allegany County, the legislature is considering amending the current purchase age of tobacco products from eighteen to twenty-one.
Reasons for this consideration of amending the current law is:
- The average age of a new smoker in New York State is just thirteen years old.
- Most teenagers get their tobacco products from peers who are in their school and are legal age to purchase tobacco products.
- There are more eighteen and nineteen year olds in high school than in previous years.
- 95 percent of adult smokers started smoking before they were twenty-one.
- Nicotine is a highly addictive drug; the younger a person is when he/she starts to use tobacco products, the harder it is to quit.
- Nicotine is known to change how the adolescent brain develops. Development continues until the age of twenty-five.
- Tobacco use is still the #1 cause of preventable death in the world, killing over 28,000 New Yorkers each year.
- In March 2015, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) concluded that raising the tobacco sale age to 21 could substantially reduce youth tobacco use initiation, smoking prevalence, and negative health consequences of smoking.
- Tobacco companies market heavily to youth and young adults to recruit “replacement smokers” to sustain their profits.
If you are concerned about the amount of youth that use tobacco products in Allegany County, please contact your legislator and let her or him know, that this topic is important to you.