Smoking rates in area counties higher than state’s
Adults in Ulster, Orange and Sullivan counties smoke more on average than adults across New York state, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In recent years, statistics compiled by the Center for a Tobacco Free Hudson Valley, a grant program of the American Lung Association of the Northeast, found smoking among New York adults has dropped from 24 percent to 15.1.
Locally, adult smoking rates fell to 21.1 percent in Ulster County, 15.7 percent in Orange County and 24.5 percent in Sullivan County, according to CDC data.
Ulster County Executive Michael Hein has made it a goal to make Ulster the healthiest county in New York.
Susan Lennon, a tobacco program manager for Tobacco Free Hudson Valley, said smoking rates are unchanged in certain demographics.
“That is populations with low incomes, which are defined as less than $15,000 a year, populations with low educations, which is less than a high school diploma, and populations with poor mental health,” Lennon said as exampled.
Orange County Legislator James DiSalvo said he would like to raise the age to purchase tobacco products in the county from 18 to 21.
He said the proposal is aimed at young people’s health and wallets.
“It (smoking) hurts their health at a younger age,” DiSalvo said. “I think it increases health problems later down the road, and being addicted to the tobacco product is difficult to shake.”
The CDC says 40 percent of all cancers are related to tobacco use.