Fewer Brooklyn teens lighting up cigarettes

SHEEPSHEAD BAY - Fewer New York City teens are lighting up cigarettes, according to data released Wednesday by Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The 2007 data shows less than one out of 10 teens smoke. The teen smoking rate dropped from 17.6 percent in 2001, to 15 percent in 2003, to 11 percent in 2005 and to a record low of 8.5 percent in 2007.

The study finds adult smoking has also decreased, but not as drastically.

Bloomberg attributes the decline to a higher city cigarette tax, the banning of smoking in public places and a hard-hitting anti-smoking advertisement campaign.

"Teens are getting the message," Bloomberg says. "There's nothing cool about smelling like an ashtray, being hooked on nicotine, or dying young. It is not the government's business whether you want to smoke or not ? But you don't have the right to pollute the air for the rest of us."

Ultimately, the mayor says bodegas that check identification will be critical in the fight against teen smoking.

Doctors say it's never too late to quit, adding that after 24 hours of being smoke-free a person's heart attack risk drops. Health experts also say quitting can help reverse some damage and restore lung function.

Anyone needing help putting out cigarette butts for good can call the city's free hotline at 311.

For Bloomberg's news conference with Department of Health officials about the smoking decline, go to Channel 612 on your iO digital cable box and select iO Extra.

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