A new report from the New York State Department of Health’s Bureau of Tobacco Control reveals significant decreases in the prevalence of smoking in adults across the North Country.
The report analyzes smoking prevalence data over a four-year timespan from 2014 to 2018. Clinton and Franklin counties each saw distinct decreases between 2016 and 2018: 24.7 to 19.9 percent in Clinton County and 28.8 to 20.6 percent in Franklin County. In Essex County, the rate dropped from 16.8 to 16.4 percent.
“We find the latest data from the state Bureau of Tobacco Control encouraging,” said Joey Boswell, who coordinates the Heart Network’s Health Systems for a Tobacco Free North Country program, which provides resources and consultation to health care providers to help increase the delivery of comprehensive, evidence-based treatment for nicotine addiction.
“It’s difficult to make a direct correlation between the work of our partners and the latest data, but we believe it’s fair to say their work played a role,” Boswell said. “While we’re encouraged by these positive strides, we can’t let up — other counties in the North Country saw smoking prevalence rates trend upwards, so there’s still work to do.”
The report, which compiles data from the 2016 and 2018 New York State Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System surveys, reveals that statewide smoking prevalence among adults was 12.8 percent in 2018. These surveys help health care providers, tobacco cessation specialists and community health organizations identify geographical disparities, track progress of cessation programs and evaluate the effectiveness of policies. County-level data can also help develop and enhance intervention programs.
“Tobacco use remains the number one cause of preventable death and disease in our country,” Boswell said. “Our Health Systems program can link providers with resources to help patients quit, but we also urge those physicians and primary care specialists to simply start conversations with those individuals. In any given year, seventy percent of tobacco users will visit a health care provider. Clinicians have an opportunity to treat tobacco use and dependency as they would any other chronic disease, with behavioral counseling and pharmacotherapy.”
“Nationwide research shows that just three to five minutes of brief counseling can double a patient’s chance of quitting, and long-term quit rates increase twenty percent with consistent follow-up counseling and up thirty percent when counseling is combined with pharmacotherapy,” Boswell noted.
The report on smoking prevalence in adults comes on the heels of another promising report on youth tobacco use in New York. The state Department of Health’s 2020 Youth Tobacco Survey found that less than 3 percent of high school students smoke, down 27.1 percent from 2000.
“These reports are proof that evidence-based treatment and sound public policy can improve health outcomes for all,” said Ann Morgan, executive director of the Heart Network. “We send our gratitude to the healthcare providers and public health agencies who are committed to helping people get and stay healthy.”
To learn more about the Heart Network’s Health Systems for a Tobacco Free North Country program, contact Joey Boswell at firstname.lastname@example.org. For resources to help you quit, check out New York State Smokers’ Quitline at nysmokefree.com or call 1-866-NY-QUITS.