Tuesday, July 22, 2008


New York City Health Commissioner Thomas R. Frieden MD MPH has a reputation as a no-nonsense regulator who thinks nothing of passing out condoms, posting the calories for fatty foods and declaring all of New York City's public places off-limits to smoking. Know what? His tough-guy tactics work. For one, he's hiked cigarette prices so high, through increased taxes, that it's painful for almost anybody to buy them-- nearly $10 a pack, more than twice the nation average. The result: Since the tax increases in 2002, the city's smoking rate has dropped 21 percent.

So can the world learn from New York, preventing 1 billion deaths from tobacco over the next century? Drawing on The Bloomberg Initiative, Frieden points others to four key actions: tax increases, smoke-free legislation, advertising bans and counter-advertising measures such as pack warnings. "Nearly every smoking death is a preventable death, if we just implement what we already know," Frieden says. "So we need to fight now and we need to fight hard."

No comments: