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New York City smoking rate hits all-time low

Sep 15, 2011, 1:19 p.m.
A model holds an unlit cigarette in her mouth backstage before the Zang Toi Spring 2011 collection during New York Fashion Week September 15, 2010. REUTERS/Eric Thayer

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Some 450,000 New Yorkers have quit smoking since 2002, reducing the smoking rate to a low of 14 percent, thanks in part to graphic anti-smoking ads, public smoking bans and higher cigarette taxes, officials said on Thursday.

Some 35 percent of adult smokers have quit since 2002, including 100,000 from 2009 to 2010, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said. That leaves 850,000 adult New Yorkers who smoke.

"Smoking is the leading cause of preventable, premature death in New York City and the nation today, and we're proud that a record number of New Yorkers are saving their own lives by quitting," Bloomberg said.

Teen smoking in the city fell 9 percentage points to 20 percent between 2001 and 2009.

The decline followed a 2002 ban on smoking in bars and restaurants in the city and a pair of state cigarette tax increases, of 35 percent in 2002 and 58 percent in 2010.

The city's Health Department has also aired a series of television ads depicting diseased organs, dramatizing the impact of lung cancer, or telling the real stories of former smokers who were disfigured by smoking-related surgery.

(Reporting by Paula Rogo; Editing by Daniel Trotta and Cynthia Johnston)

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