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.
- 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
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.
- 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.
- 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
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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
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.More Info
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.Get Involved
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.Get Involved
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.
Over the past several years, we have launched a number of successful media campaigns to support our tobacco control and smoke-free policy initiatives.Get Involved
Meet the Team! We are the people behind the people.
Vonetta Dudley, MA, CHES
Vonetta Dudley, MA, CHESDirector
Vonetta Dudley is the Director of NYC Smoke-Free at Public Health Solutions, where she works to end the devastating tobacco epidemic and protect the health of New Yorkers through tobacco control policy, advocacy, and education. She joined the team back in 2014 as a Reality Check Manager, where she worked with local youth, helping to empower them, develop their advocacy skills and nurtured them into strong student leaders for their community. Before joining Public Health Solutions, she worked at Urban Health Plan, Inc. as a Health Educator for the Adolescent Health Center. She was also the Program Coordinator for the Pediatric Department program “Fit for Life” where she spearheaded an infant-toddler obesity prevention program. Vonetta’s goal has always been to educate community members and residents how they can live longer and healthier lives by becoming advocates of their own health.
Robin Fleary, MPH
Program Operations Manager
Robin Fleary, MPHProgram Operations Manager
Robin Fleary is the Program Operations Manager of NYC Smoke-Free at Public Health Solutions, where she works to end the devastating tobacco epidemic and protect the health of all New Yorkers through tobacco control policy, advocacy, and education. Prior to joining Public Health Solutions, she worked as a Health Educator facilitating evidence based curriculum on sexual and reproductive health in NYC public schools. Robin attended Long Island University, Brooklyn Campus for both undergraduate and graduate study in which she received a Bachelor of Science in Health science and Biology and a Master of Public Health with a concentration in Health Promotion and Program Planning.
Bronx Community Engagement Manager
Guillermo FloresBronx Community Engagement Manager
Guillermo Flores, Jr. is the Bronx Community Engagement Manager of NYC Smoke-Free at Public Health Solutions, where he works to end the devastating tobacco epidemic and protect the health of all New Yorkers through tobacco control policy, advocacy, and education. Prior to joining Public Health Solutions, he worked at the American Cancer Society, where he served as a Community Mission Manager and Director of Health Care Systems and Worksite Initiatives. He has also worked in institutions that serve communities in NYC declared “health crisis zones” by the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Born and reared in the Bronx, it is Guillermo’s professional and personal goal to help all Bronxites live longer, healthier lives.
Saraswathi Cuffey, MPH
Bronx Youth Engagement Manager
Saraswathi Cuffey, MPHBronx Youth Engagement Manager
Saraswathi Cuffey is the Bronx Youth Engagement Manager of NYC Smoke-Free at Public Health Solutions, where she works to end the devastating tobacco epidemic and protect the health of New Yorkers through tobacco control policy, advocacy, and education. Prior to joining Public Health Solutions, she worked as a Program Coordinator and Health Educator in which she coordinated, implemented, and facilitated nutrition and fitness classes in NYC Public Schools. Saraswathi received her Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology from the University of Maryland and a Master of Public Health degree with a concentrate in Physical Activity and Public Health from the University of South Carolina.
Julia Cuthbertson, MPH
Brooklyn Community Engagement Manager
Julia Cuthbertson, MPHBrooklyn Community Engagement Manager
Julia Cuthbertson is the Brooklyn Community Engagement Manager of NYC Smoke-Free at Public Health Solutions, where she works to end the devastating tobacco epidemic and protect the health of all New Yorkers through tobacco control policy, advocacy, and education. Prior to joining Public Health Solutions, she worked on obesity prevention by increasing healthy food access as a consultant at the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and as the Social Media Strategist for With Food in Mind. Since 2010, she has also collaborated with NoFumadores.org, Spain’s leading tobacco control advocacy group.
Edric Robinson, MS
Brooklyn Youth Engagement Manager
Edric Robinson, MSBrooklyn Youth Engagement Manager
Stefanie Mercado Altman, MScPH
Manhattan Community Engagement Manager
Stefanie Mercado Altman, MScPHManhattan Community Engagement Manager
Stefanie is the Manhattan Community Engagement Manager of NYC Smoke-Free at Public Health Solutions, where she works to end the devastating tobacco epidemic and protect the health of all New Yorkers through tobacco control policy, advocacy, and education. Prior to working at PHS, she worked with Medicare and Medicaid recipients enrolling them in government and community programs to access essential services they needed. She also worked at the Montefiore School Health Program as a Community Health Organizer, where she coordinated, implemented, and taught health education and youth development classes, as well as helped implement school wellness policies. Stefanie earned her Bachelors in Anthropology at Ithaca College in 2013. She went on to get her Master of Science in Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in 2015.
Ayodele Alli, MS
Manhattan Youth Engagement Manager
Ayodele Alli, MSManhattan Youth Engagement Manager
Ayo Alli, M.S, is the Manhattan Reality Check Youth Engagement Manager of NYC Smoke-Free at Public Health Solutions, where he works to end the devastating tobacco epidemic and protect the health of all New Yorkers through tobacco control policy, advocacy, and education. Ayo joins Public Health Solutions, with experience in coordinating youth engagement and educational equality programs, outreach implementation in disaster recovery nonprofit organizations and a passion for eradicating the epidemic that tobacco smoke represents to a youthful demographic. He attended the University of Michigan for his undergraduate studies in Political Science and African-American studies, as well as a Master of Science in Information Policy.
Queens Community Engagement Manager
Lawrence SaundersQueens Community Engagement Manager
Lawrence Saunders is the Queens Community Engagement Manager where he works to end the devastating tobacco epidemic and protect the health of all New Yorkers through tobacco control policy, advocacy, and education. He joins us with over 20 years of community engagement and government relations experience. Prior to joining Public Health Solutions, Lawrence led and collaborated in forging successful partnership alliances on projects with various elected officials, CBO, corporate, community and city agency leaders. Lawrence has a passion for standing up for the rights of others and has successfully advocated of behalf many. He has a well-rounded background in project management, customer service, program assessment and management. Lawrence has worked in corporate and non-profit organizations. He also served as Legislative and Budget Director at the NYC Council and is experienced with working with legislators on the city, state and federal level. Lawrence graduated summa cum laude from Medgar Evers College, with a Bachelor degree in Public Administration and he also has a Master’s degree in Theology.
Equisha Pierre, MPA
Staten Island Community Engagement Manager
Equisha Pierre, MPAStaten Island Community Engagement Manager
Equisha Pierre is the Staten Island Community Engagement Manager of NYC Smoke-Free at Public Health Solutions, where she works to end the devastating tobacco epidemic and protect the health of all New Yorkers through tobacco control policy, advocacy, and education. Prior to joining Public Health Solutions, she was the Director of Programs and Operations for The Sand Box, a home-based daycare which she owned. Equisha has an extensive background in education as a former Science Teacher and After-Care Director. As a Staten Island native, Equisha is well versed on its culture and needs, and is excited to help Staten Islander’s embark on a healthier smoke-free lifestyle.
Elsabet Andemicael, MPH
Staten Island Youth Engagement Manager
Elsabet Andemicael, MPHStaten Island Youth Engagement Manager
Elsabet Andemicael is the Staten Island Reality Check Youth Engagement Manager of NYC Smoke-Free at Public Health Solutions, where she works to end the devastating tobacco epidemic and protect the health of New Yorkers through tobacco control policy, advocacy, and education. Prior to joining Public Health Solutions she worked at a women’s drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility, and as a Research Coordinator for Rutgers University. Elsabet believes that health begins with mental health, and strives to facilitate positive behavior change in diverse communities by channeling creativity. Elsabet earned a BA in Psychology and Africana Studies, as well as an MPH in Social/Behavioral Sciences and Global Health from Rutgers University.
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:
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: