To the editor:
Our city is changing, and one fact remains the same: Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death and disease for New Yorkers.
In the wake of New York City being at the center of the COVID-19 pandemic, many New Yorkers are vulnerable and stress levels are high. While many may turn to tobacco to “relieve stress” and “cope” with the new reality, right now is the best time to quit as those who smoke are higher risk for increased complications if they contract the disease.
We know that the tobacco industry always finds new ways to encourage youth tobacco use and increase overall smoking rates. The over-abundance of tobacco products in low-income communities, along with ads and displays in local stores, as well as influence from the television and film industry, aids in usage of deadly tobacco products.
Currently, in New York City, 13,000 public high school students smoke cigarettes, while 45,000 public high school students use e-cigarettes. These numbers are alarming and will continue to rise if we don’t continue our efforts against Big Tobacco.
NYC Smoke-Free at Public Health Solutions is a great resource for city residents, and uses evidence-based practices, policy-driven and cost-effective approaches, to decrease youth tobacco initiation, and supports adult tobacco users to quit.
There have been great successes in the efforts against the tobacco industry, yet more work remains in order to reduce the significantly higher smoking rates among disparate populations throughout New York City. During this time, we encourage New Yorkers to support annual advocacy campaigns like No Menthol Sunday and World No Tobacco Day.
As they learn, we hope they can quit or COVID-19.
The author is the Bronx Reality Check youth engagement manager for NYC Smoke-Free at Public Health Solutions.