Smoking became a popular habit among impressionable teens and wise adults alike around the time that noir movies started making waves at the cinema, and filmmakers started feeling the need to give their characters something to do while they were talking.
It has been though of as a good thing for decades. Health experts blame it for lung cancer, while climate scientists blame it for air pollution. Despite warning labels and several studies urging people to quit smoking, the habit persisted for a good, long while.
But now, in today’s increasingly health-conscious society it seems that the number of people who take up smoking is finally diminishing.
The state of New York has recently hit an all time low, with the city hosting fewer smokers than ever in history. In the past four (4) years the number of high school students who smoke has dropped by 42 percent (42%). The rate of high school smokers is now only 7.2 percent (7.2%).
Adults aren’t letting the kids be the only ones with healthier habits either. The rate of adult smokers living in New York City is now just 14.5 percent (14.5%), while the national average is 17.8% percent (17.8%).
Gov. Cuomo gave a statement saying that “With the lowest smoking rate in recorded history, it’s clear that New York State is becoming healthier than ever”.
While, the state Department of Health agrees, saying that it has received more than $10 million that they used for anti-smoking ads, laws and programs, there are those who credit the city’s high tobacco taxes for the rate drop, saying that people just aren’t willing to spend that much money on the habit.
The United Kingdom has also recently seen a drop in the number of smokers. In 1999, 27.4 percent (27.4%) of the adults living in the UK were smokers. Today only 18.8 percent (18.9%) of British adults still practice the unhealthy habit.
Earlier this year, a ban prohibited small British retailers from displaying packages of cigarettes at the point of dale, and this year another ban will prohibit British drivers from smoking if there are kids in the car.
In order to try to reduce youth smoking, the British Government also followed in the footsteps of the Australian Government and banned cigarette branding, a move which upset tobacco companies greatly.
And Martin Deboo, an analyst at Jefferies, agrees with the so called cynics from New York, saying that the most efficient way to reduce the smoking rate is to make prices go up. Currently, a pack of cigarettes sells in the UK for £9.16.
Last but not least, Canada is making similar efforts. In the mid-1960s people were legally allowed to smoke in every public space and roughly half of the Canadian population did just that. Men smoked even more than women, with 61 percent (61%) of them practicing the habit.
However, by 2013 the national rate dropped to 19.3 percent (19.3%) thanks to government policies such as banning cigarette ads and sponsorship, labeling cigarette packs with health warnings and banning smoking from public spaces.
As a result, Dr. Peter Selby, chief of the addictions division at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, gave a statement saying that smokers have plateaued in the past five (5) years.