Advocates Praise Mayor de Blasio, City Council Plan to Curb Smoking and Tobacco Usage in NYC

April 19, 2017

"New York City has long been a leader in public health – particularly in tobacco control. There is strong evidence that limiting access to tobacco products, and specifically reducing the number of retailers, will reduce citywide smoking rates. These measures will help smokers quit, protect kids from a lifetime of addiction, save lives and save money," said Dr. Thomas Frieden, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and New York City Health Commissioner from 2002 to 2009.

Former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin said, "This bill positions New York City as a national leader in the fight against tobacco use. There is scientific evidence to support the need for the three most important pillars of the legislation: residential smoking disclosures, reducing the number of retailers, and raising the price of tobacco products. The goal is to decrease tobacco consumption and prevent harmful health effects from exposure to tobacco products."

“Tobacco use continues to be the leading preventable cause of heart disease and stroke,” stated Heather Kinder, Executive Vice President of the American Heart Association Founders Affiliate. “Today, we applaud Mayor de Blasio, Commissioner Bassett and our Council champions for tackling this serious risk to our city’s health.  The more we restrict access to nicotine in our city, the more we remove New Yorkers from the dangerous risk of tobacco addiction.  Making tobacco products more expensive is a proven intervention that will save lives.  And by reducing the number of licensed retailers, and removing tobacco from pharmacies altogether, we are promoting public health.  The American Heart Association is grateful for this support of our mission.”

“By adopting this latest package of tobacco prevention measures, New York City can build on the enormous progress it has made in reducing tobacco use and saving lives. This package incorporates proven measures for fighting tobacco use, including reducing the number of tobacco retailers and increasing the price of tobacco products. These measures will help protect New York City’s children – and all city residents – from tobacco addiction and help us win the fight against this deadly epidemic,” stated Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

“We are proud to stand beside Mayor de Blasio, Speaker Mark-Viverito and public health champions to announce new measures to prevent and further reduce tobacco use in New York City.  Thanks to this new package of health bills, New York City is taking another step forward in being a leader for providing a healthier, smoke free city for residents and visitors alike,” said Jeff Seyler, President & CEO, American Lung Association of the Northeast.

“The package of bills highlighted today is a historic step toward preventing the thousands of lives lost to tobacco every year in New York City. Mayor de Blasio, Commissioner Mary Basset and Speaker Viverito have demonstrated a strong commitment to bold action on behalf of the public and we look forward to working with them in the coming months to pass this legislation and reign in the oversaturation of tobacco in New York City,” stated Michael Davoli, Metro New York director of government relations, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN).

CEO and President of Vital Strategies, José Luis Castro, said, “New York City has a proud track record in recent years of implementing progressive health policies that protect all citizens and have the effect of reducing health inequalities. Once again, officials have taken a great step forward to protect citizens from the deadly harms of tobacco use, which continues to place a disproportionately heavy burden among the most disadvantaged in our great city. These sensible proposals - such as making tobacco products more unaffordable, especially to kids - will propel NYC’s efforts to reduce tobacco use and improve health now and among future generations. We congratulate Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett and City officials for this latest set of life-saving policies, which will set an example for other cities and countries around the globe.”

“We commend the Mayor and City Council for their efforts to continue to promote healthy living in Brooklyn and the rest of New York City,” said Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Andrew Hoan. “By making it more difficult to purchase products that are bad for us, the City has made it easier for us to work and play in a better, healthier borough.”

"New York City has already made great strides in limiting the damage that tobacco causes, and we're pleased that the regulations introduced today will build on that progress in a way that makes sense for our local small businesses," said Regina Myer, President of Downtown Brooklyn Partnership. "We look forward to the City's ongoing work with BIDs and business leaders in this effort and in other areas of public health - such as improving access to open space and recreation, and promoting health and wellness campaigns that benefit all New Yorkers."

“As an organization dedicated to fostering quality and longevity of life, AARP applauds Mayor de Blasio and the City Council for taking the lead on this critical public health issue. Reducing the use of tobacco in New York City will help improve the health of New Yorkers of all ages today and tomorrow, including the many family caregivers who attend to the health of their older loved ones. We look forward to working with the Mayor and Council to keep New York healthy,”  added Beth Finkel, State Director for AARP New York.

Jill Furillo RN, Executive Director of NYSNA said, “With these rules, New York City continues to be a leader in the protection of the public's health. As frontline nurses, we see the lethal effects of smoking in our hospitals every day, on every unit.  The comprehensive legislative package put forward by Mayor de Blasio is critical to ending the high cost to human health of tobacco smoking.”

"Smoking is the top preventable cause of death in New York City,” stated Dr. Frank Proscia, President, Doctors Council SEIU. “While the City has seen improvements in tobacco usage in recent years, we can do so much more. Doctors Council members in the public health system see patients every day with acute respiratory illnesses ranging from asthma to emphysema as a result of tobacco use. These illnesses have severe effects on individuals’ well-being and quality of life.  We applaud the Administration for supporting legislation to limit tobacco access and to enhance public health for all New Yorkers."

Lisa David, President and CEO of Public Health Solutions said, “As an organization dedicated to improving the health of NYC’s underserved communities, Public Health Solutions applauds Mayor de Blasio and the City Council for proposing this comprehensive package of important and proven solutions to curb the tobacco epidemic. These legislative proposals extend deep into our City’s communities, including businesses and residential buildings, to limit tobacco access and create healthier environments that will have positive short- and long-term health benefits for individuals, particularly among young people, and families.  Taking a hard line on tobacco and nicotine products like e-cigarettes is critical to preventing disease and promoting health."

"Studies show that the health benefits of stopping the use of tobacco begin almost immediately," said Craig Thompson, MD, President and CEO of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.  "We are pleased to support Mayor de Blasio's anti-smoking legislation and share his concern for the health of all New Yorkers. Memorial Sloan Kettering encourages all healthcare professionals and colleagues to continue to be advocates for cancer prevention by making strong recommendations for smoking cessation and greater restrictions for access to tobacco."

“New Yorkers are seeing more and more tobacco in our neighborhoods and more than 1 in every 3 NYC high school student who smoke obtain their cigarettes from a neighborhood shop. In some of our most vulnerable communities, tobacco is both persistent and pervasive: chronic disparities of higher tobacco use and secondhand smoke exposure rates are coupled with widespread availability of addictive tobacco products sold by bodegas, pharmacies, and more. Our kids deserve better than to live in a tobacco swamp festering with deadly tobacco products. It’s time we stop having tobacco outlets on nearly every block and corner,” said Patrick Kwan, Director of NYC Smoke-Free at Public Health Solutions.   

“The Public Health Association of New York City advocates for equal access to health for all New Yorkers,” stated Kavitha Das, Board Member of PHANYC and Co-Chair of their Policy Committee. “Despite significant gains in advancing tobacco control over the past decade, tobacco use maintains a persistent threat to our health. Coupled with the alarming increase in the use of electronic cigarettes, and New Yorkers are faced with the potential for a lifetime of addiction, tobacco-related illnesses and a dramatic reduction in quality of life.  Thank you, Mayor de Blasio, Commissioner Bassett and Council Members Cabrera, Johnson and Lander for promoting public health!”

Ashley Zanatta, Reality Check Lead of Tobacco-Free Staten Island said, “At 16. 6%, Staten Island continues to have the highest smoking rate in the city.  While we have made great strides in combating the tobacco epidemic, more work still needs to be done to reduce the significantly higher smoking rates among disparate populations in our region and throughout the state.  According to the U.S. Surgeon General, advertising and promotional activities by tobacco companies have been shown to cause the onset and continuation of smoking among adolescents and young adults.  Studies show that reducing the amount of tobacco retailers in a community makes youth less likely to be influenced by cigarette advertising and less likely to initiate tobacco use.  Over the last year, Staten Island Reality Check Youth visited 120 retailers in Staten Island, six of which were located just a few feet from an intermediate school.  The youth were alarmed by the amount of tobacco marketing that they found near their schools and in their neighborhoods, particularly low SES communities.”

"In 2016, 14.3% of New York City residents smoke and more than 200,000 children were exposed to secondhand smoke at home. It is costing New York City about $1,488 dollars per household for smoking-related health care cost.  We know nationwide that tobacco control efforts have been credited with preventing about eight million premature deaths. Yet control efforts are still weak in many parts of the country. Despite progress being made, black and Latino smokers continue to be less likely than whites to receive and use tobacco-cessation interventions, even after control for socioeconomic and healthcare factors. Traditional (e.g., cigarettes, cigarillos) and new tobacco products (e.g., e-cigarettes, flavored cigars) are so more widely available and more affordable to purchase in low-income, immigrant and communities of color. Tobacco-related health disparities (TRHDs) affect individuals, children and families, communities, and the economy in shattering ways. We commend the Mayor and the City for strengthening efforts to drive down tobacco use,” stated Anthony Feliciano, Director of the Commission on the Public's Health System.

Maria Lizardo, Executive Director of Northern Manhattan Inprovement Corporation said, “NMIC applauds the Mayor's efforts to reduce the number of smokers in NYC. Smoking is detrimental to New Yorkers and having a multi prong approach that decreases the availability of tobacco and pushes landlords to develop smoking policies, will benefit all New Yorkers.”

“Tobacco use causes devastating and preventable diseases in communities across New York City, and continues to disproportionately affect low-income communities and communities of color.  Local government programs to curb tobacco use -- including Medicaid coverage for smoking cessation program-- have already had a demonstrable positive effect.  The bold steps proposed in this package of legislation will further reduce tobacco-related illness in our city,” said Laura Redman, director of the Health Justice Program at New York Lawyers for the Public Interest.

“North Shore Towers and Country Club is proud to be on the forefront of healthy living!” said Board Member, Phyllis Goldstein, “We are a complex of three 33 floor towers on 110 acres in eastern Queens.  As of January 1, 2017, the amendment to the proprietary lease banning smoking in all interiors of the buildings, including apartments, balconies, terraces, and common areas went into effect.  The community wanted it, voted for it, and are now reaping the benefits of clean air!  Thank you Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Bassett for prioritizing smoke-free housing.”


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