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Number of smokers in NYC declines

/ Source: The Associated Press

The number of adult smokers in New York City dropped by more than 100,000 in a year, a decrease city officials attribute to sharply higher tobacco taxes, the city’s smoking ban in bars and cessation programs.

Telephone surveys commissioned by the city found that 19.3 percent of adults smoked in 2003, compared with 21.6 percent in 2002, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

Cigarette consumption also declined by 13 percent, signaling that those who still smoke are smoking less.

“From what we’ve seen, we believe New York City experienced the steepest decline anywhere in one year,” Health Commissioner Thomas R. Frieden told the Times.

In 2002, tax on cigarettes went from 8 cents a pack to $1.50 a pack; the following year, the city’s law banning smoking in bars took effect. Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his administration also have supported cessation programs.

The telephone surveys had a margin of error of plus or minus 1 percentage point.