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November 17, 2016

SFC Holds 10th Annual Great American Smokeout

NYC Smoke-Free and St. Francis College Celebrate "Great American Smokeout"
Significant disparities in smoking and secondhand exposure rates persist along demographic lines in Brooklyn

Brooklyn (November 17, 2016): The tobacco epidemic kills 28,200 people every year in New York State alone and afflicts more than a half million New Yorkers with serious smoking-related illnesses and disabilities. Despite a substantial decline in smoking rates in New York City in the past decade, there are still tobacco-related health disparities affecting many New Yorkers. As part of the Great American Smokeout (GASO), NYC Smoke-Free collaborated with St. Francis College in Brooklyn Heights to encourage smokers on campus and in the larger community to quit for one day and to raise awareness of the importance of smoke-free protections in creating environments where quit attempts are more likely to be successful.

Professor Michelle Steven (Communication Arts), Marlina Reid (Peer Health Educator), and Julia Cuthbertson (Brooklyn Community Engagement Coordinator) spoke at a panel discussion that concerned the challenges of smoking, vaping, media glamorization of tobacco, and how communities of color are disproportionately affected by tobacco use.

(Watch the panel on smoking challenges)

New York State Senator Roxanne Persaud said: "St. Francis College has worked diligently with NYC Smoke-Free to protect the health of New Yorkers through tobacco control policy, advocacy and education. In February of this year I was honored to present NYC Smoke-Free Brooklyn fellow Cedric Smalls a proclamation for his outstanding work educating his peers about the dangers of tobacco. Their dedication to this cause is surely commendable."

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams added: "The tobacco epidemic is not over. While smoking rates in Brooklyn have decreased, significant disparities in smoking and secondhand smoke exposure rates continue to exist – such as in communities of color and populations with limited income or education. I am proud to work with NYC Smoke-Free on this continuing effort to make our borough a safer and greater place to raise healthy children and families."

New York City has been a global leader in the fight against Big Tobacco and has made tremendous progress in preventing tobacco addiction and protecting our communities from dangerous secondhand smoke pollution. "We must continue to fight for the health of all New Yorkers, especially vulnerable groups that have dramatically higher smoking rates, such as those struggling with mental health, immigrant communities and the LGBT population" said Julia Cuthbertson, Brooklyn community engagement coordinator for NYC Smoke-Free at Public Health Solutions. "NYC Smoke-Free is thrilled to join St. Francis College and many other community partners and local leaders for the Great American Smokeout to draw attention to the devastating tobacco epidemic and encourage smokers to quit their habit today."

Activities on campus included free oral cancer screenings, presentations by health educators, an art contest visually representing the economic impact of smoking, performances by the SFC Dance Squad, and an interactive panel on the state of tobacco use in NYC's most populous borough.

The smoking rate among adult New Yorkers did not change over the last year, but has declined significantly since 2002. According to recently released NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene data, 14.3 percent of New York City adults were smokers, with almost one-third of them residing in Brooklyn. The current rate represents a 33 percent decline in smoking from the 2002 prevalence rate. While this progress should be applauded, it is a reminder that there are still nearly 950,000 adults smokers in New York City.

The Great American Smokeout, an event created by the American Cancer Society, is held annually on the 3rd Thursday of November and is observed nationwide.


NYC Smoke-Free, a program of Public Health Solutions, works to protect the health of New Yorkers through tobacco control policy, advocacy, and education. Formerly the NYC Coalition for a Smoke-Free City, we partner with community members, legislators, and health advocates to support local efforts to end the devastating tobacco epidemic throughout NYC. We believe every New Yorker has the right to breathe clean, smoke-free air where they live, work and play. Learn more at

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