Cigarette smoking among upstate New Yorkers has declined since 2004, but smoking rates in upstate New York continue to be higher than state and national averages, according to a new Excellus BlueCross BlueShield report "The Facts About Cigarette Smoking Among Upstate New York Adults" issued last week.
Issued during the 50th anniversary year of the first Surgeon General's report linking smoking to lung cancer, the Excellus BCBS report found that while 20.9 percent of upstate New York adults smoke, the smoking rate among all New York state adults is significantly lower (16.2 percent), and the smoking rate among U.S. adults is also lower (18.1 percent).
The data also shows that over the past decade, the rate of adult smokers in upstate New York has declined 5.4 points, while the rate of adult smokers in New York state declined 4.9 points, and the rate of adult smokers in the U.S. declined 3.7 points.
About 24,000 New Yorkers die each year from diseases caused by smoking cigarettes, and another 3,000 lives are claimed by exposure to secondhand smoke.
Excellus BCBS's report concludes that smoking costs New York state more than $15.6 billion (2014 dollars) each year in direct medical costs and economic productivity losses.
Smoking among New York state adults varies:
• One in five adults age 25 to 34 (21.0 percent) smoke.
• Adults who haven't earned a high school diploma or GED are more than three times as likely to smoke (24.0 percent) than college graduates (7.3 percent).
• Adults with incomes below $15,000 are more than twice as likely to smoke (25.2 percent) than those with incomes of $50,000 or more (11.7 percent).