Smoking and Tobacco Use

Facts about Smoking and Tobacco Use in NYS

  • Tobacco use is still the number one cause of preventable disease and death in NYS.
  • Although the adult smoking rate in NYS is at record lows, approximately 2.1 million adult New Yorkers still smoke.
  • Although NYS youth smoking rates are at their lowest recorded rates, 10,600 youth under 18 become new daily smokers each year and 73,700 NYS high school students currently smoke.
  • Despite significant declines in smoking rates for New York adults and youth, the rates for smokers with lower incomes, lower educational attainment or mental illness have not declined at the same pace.

Smoking Causes Death and Disease

  • Every year in NYS, smoking kills 28,200 adults.
  • More than a half million New Yorkers live with serious smoking-caused illnesses and disabilities.
  • Smoking impairs fertility and causes certain birth defects.
  • Smoking causes many diseases including:
    • Cancer almost anywhere in the body (including in the lung, colon, rectum, liver, bladder, pancreas, uterus, and head and neck)
    • Type 2 diabetes
    • Heart disease and stroke
    • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
    • Erectile dysfunction
    • Age-related macular degeneration

To learn more about smoking and health, see the U.S. Surgeon General’s consumer booklet, Let’s Make the Next Generation Tobacco-Free.

Exposure to Secondhand Smoke Causes Death and Disease

  • There is no safe level of exposure to cigarette smoke.
  • About 3,000 nonsmoking adults in NYS die from diseases (including heart disease, lung cancer and stroke) caused by secondhand smoke every year.
  • Over a million children in NYS are exposed to secondhand smoke in their own homes every year.
  • Children exposed to secondhand smoke:
    • Are more likely to get ear infections;
    • Have more breathing problems such as bronchitis and pneumonia;
    • Who already have asthma, have more frequent and severe attacks.

The Financial Toll

  • Every year, tobacco-related health care costs New Yorkers $10.4 billion, of which Medicaid covers $3.3 billion.
  • Lost productivity from smoking costs NYS more than $6 billion annually.
  • Tobacco control saves lives and money. In its first year, the 2003 expansion of the Clean Indoor Air Act (CIAA) led to a significant decrease in hospital admissions for heart attacks that saved NYS an estimated $56 million. To learn more, see NYS’s Clean Indoor Air Act: Ten Years Later and Growing Strong.

The Benefits of Quitting Smoking

  • Start immediately and continue over time:
    • After 20 minutes, heart rate and blood pressure drop.
    • After 12 hours, the carbon monoxide level in blood begins to drop.
    • Circulation improves and lung function increases 2 weeks to 3 months after quitting.
    • After a year, the excess risk of heart disease is half that of a continuing smoker’s.
    • After 15 years, the risk of heart disease is the same as a nonsmoker’s.
    • The risk of developing type 2 diabetes decreases.

To learn more about smoking and health, see the U.S. Surgeon General’s consumer booklet, Let’s Make the Next Generation Tobacco-Free.

Thinking about Quitting?

Talk to your health care provider for quit assistance or call the New York State Smokers’ Quitline toll-free at 1-866-NY-QUITS (1-866-697-8487) or visit for FREE information and services.