Who Is NYC Smoke-Free?

NYC Smoke-Free, a program of Public Health Solutions, works to protect the health of New Yorkers through tobacco control policy, advocacy and education. We partner with community members, legislators, and health advocates to support local efforts to end the devastating tobacco epidemic throughout NYC where close to 1 million residents smoke. The majority of smokers start and become hooked before age 18 – it is unacceptable for NYC youth to be lured into a life of tobacco addiction. Every NYC resident has the right to breathe clean, smoke-free air where they live, work and play, and people who smoke deserve the support and resources to quit.

Tobacco use remains the #1 cause of preventable death in the United States, killing over 480,000 annually. In New York City, 12,000 residents die from a smoking-related illness every year. Our advocacy efforts serve to foster environments that support the prevention and reduction of tobacco use through the development and reinforcement of tobacco-free norms in communities throughout New York City. While employing a two-pronged approach via youth action and community engagement,  we utilize a community-based strategy which includes community education, community mobilization, government policy-maker education, and advocacy with organizational decision makers.

 

 

Key Issues

  • Limiting youth exposure and access to tobacco marketing and advertising of flavored tobacco products.
  • Increasing the number of apartment buildings, co-ops, condos and that are 100% smoke-free
  • Increase the number of smoke-free outdoor spaces
  • Reduce tobacco imagery in youth rated movies and youth friendly internet sites
  • Engage youth and community partners to build support for a smoke-free city and end tobacco health disparities

Smoke-Free Movies

Big Tobacco has a long history of using movies to glamorize smoking and recruit young new smokers. NYC Smoke-Free is dedicated to drive policies that cut smoking imagery in movies and strengthen youth rating regulations. 

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Key Facts

  • The amount of smoking imagery featured in movies increased 144%from 1998 to 2005.
  • In 2017, movies rated PG-13 accounted for 30% of smoking incidents in movies.
  • 90% of cigarette smokers first try smoking by age 18
  • 37% of smokers under 18 first start due to exposure to on-screen smoking
  • 13,000 NYC public high school students smoke — as a result, 1/3 of themwill die prematurely

Tobacco-Free Outdoor Air

Tobacco-Free Outdoor Policies (TFO) are voluntary policies adopted by businesses, community institutions, and faith-based organizations to ban smoking on outdoor property.

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Key Facts

  • Secondhand smoke causes 7,330 deaths from lung cancer and 33,950 deaths from heart disease each year
  • Smoking in outdoor spaces is an ongoing health hazard that exposes thousands of New Yorkers to secondhand smoke every day.
  • Since 1964, 2.5 million adults who were nonsmokers died due to secondhand smoke
  • Public Health laws and regulations have drastically reduced outdoor smoking by making it illegal to smoke in public areas

Housing Inequality

Smoke-free housing should not be a luxury out of reach. All New Yorkers – including families in public or affordable housing – deserve to breathe smoke-free air that is not laced with toxic nicotine.

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Key Facts

  • In NYC, luxury condos, co-ops and market rate rentals are increasingly smoke-free.
  • A poll conducted by NYC DOHMH and NYCHA found that 75% of NYCHA residents preferred to live in a building where smoking was not allowed anywhere in side the building, including apartments.
  • NYCHA residents are twices as likely to report having asthma as NYC adults overall
  • Additionally, 64% of residents responded that all NYC public housing or projects should be smoke-free.

Tobacco Disparities

The tobacco epidemic is far from over and significant disparities in tobacco use and secondhand smoke exposure persist for far too many New Yorkers, especially the most vulnerable. NYC Smoke-Free is committed to building health equity to put an end to the devastating tobacco epidemic.

 

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Key Facts

  • Tobacco remains the #1 cause of premature, preventable death for New Yorkers and 1 out of every 3 smokers will die from smoking-related diseases
  • Over 28,000 New Yorkers – including 12,000 in NYC – continue to die every year from tobacco
  • Studies have found disturbing tobacco disparities in Chinese American, LGBT, and immigrant populations, with smoking rates up to 3x higher than the general population
  • Vaping and e-cigarette use has skyrocketted among young New Yorkers. In NYC, 45,000 youth report using e-cigarettes or vaping products
  • The use of menthol cigarettes is disproportionate among smokers, specifically 85% of African American smokers in NYC use menthol cigarettes compared to 22% of White smokers.

Tobacco Proliferation

Many New Yorkers are seeing more and more tobacco in our communities. And 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 dangerous tobacco products.

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Key Facts

  • NYC neighborhoods are already swamped with over 8,000 tobacco outlets
  • More than 1 in every 3 NYC high school student who smoke obtain their cigarettes from a neighborhood tobacco outlet
  • Widespread availability of tobacco in our communities dangerously normalizes tobacco, which remains the #1 cause of preventable death and takes the lives of 12,000 NYC residents each year

Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS)

Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS), more commonly known as e-cigarettes, or vaping, has significantly increased over the past few years.

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Key Facts

  • Ends are considered tobacco products because they contain nicotine – a derivative of tobacco.
  • Use of ENDS is strongly linked to the use of other tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigars, hookah, and smokeless tobacco—especially among youth.
  • ENDs are not FDA-approved as a quit aid and have been linked to serious health risks.
  • According to NYS data, e-cig use among youth has doubled during the past year

Flavored Tobacco: Menthol

While smoking rates are seeing an overall decline, the use of flavors in tobacco products has seriously jeopardized recent progress. One flavor in particular, menthol, has had a particularly harmful impact on health – which is often overlooked.

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Key Facts

  • Menthol cigarette smokers have lower rates of quitting than traditional cigarette smokers.
  • Among smokers in NYC, menthol cigarettes are more common among African Americans than any other racial/ethnic group.
  • Youth are a critical population for the tobacco industry, as over 90% of all regular smokers initiative before age 21.
  • 64% of Latino smokers use menthol cigarettes.

Programs

Community Engagement

Utilizing outreach, education, advocacy, partnership and communication, NYC Smoke-Free actively engages community members and key stakeholders ( local community boards, community based organizations, and influential decision makers) to support the prevention and reduction of tobacco use.

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Reality Check

Reality Check, our student engagement and youth action component, is a student led, adult supported, statewide program for youth between the ages of 13 through 18 to address tobacco control initiatives. Students who join NYC Smoke-Free’s Reality Check program participate and lead activities and events to help expose the tobacco industry and reduce the number of teens that initiate smoking.

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Policymaker Education

Government officials, such as City Council Members, State Assembly Member, and State Senators play a critical role in our society and can also be powerful voices in the fight against the tobacco industry.

 

 

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Media Campaigns

Over the past several years, we have launched a number of successful media campaigns to support our tobacco control and smoke-free policy initiatives.

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Our Team

Meet the Team! We  are the people behind the people.

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Deidre Sully, MPH

Director
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Robin Fleary, MPH

Program Coordinator
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Guillermo Flores

Bronx Community Engagement Manager
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Vonetta Dudley, MA, CHES

Bronx Youth Engagement Manager
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Julia Cuthbertson, MPH

Brooklyn Community Engagement Manager
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Edric Robinson, MS

Brooklyn Youth Engagement Manager
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Lisa Spitzner, CHES

Manhattan Community Engagement Manager
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Ayodele Alli, MS

Manhattan Youth Engagement Manager
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Lawrence Saunders

Queens Community Engagement Manager
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Vanessa Manluco, MEd

Queens Youth Engagement Manager
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Equisha Pierre, MPA

Staten Island Community Engagement Manager
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Elsabet Andemicael, MPH

Staten Island Youth Engagement Manager

Partners

We partner with community members, legislators, and local health advocates to promote a smoke-free city through neighborhood-based efforts, information sharing, and policy change.  Our success would not be possible without a number of health and youth-focused organizations throughout NYC:

Additional Partners

NYC Smoke-Free is an Advancing Tobacco-Free Communities (ATFC) Partner:

The New York State Department of Health, Bureau of Tobacco Control funds NYC Smoke-Free at Public Health Solutions to increase support for New York State’s tobacco-free norm through youth action and community engagement. Efforts are evidence-based, policy-driven, and cost-effective approaches that decrease youth tobacco use, motivate adult smokers to quit, and eliminate exposure to secondhand smoke. Learn more about statewide efforts below: