NEW YORK — The number of smokers in New York has hit an all time low, city health officials said Thursday.
Only 14 out of 100 adults still light up, a 35 percent decrease from 2002 figures, the Health Department said. The decrease amounts to 450,000 fewer adult smokers, with teens registering steep declines.
"Smoking is the leading cause of preventable, premature death in New York City and the nation today and we?re proud that a record number of New Yorkers are saving their own lives by quitting," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement.
The health commissioner, Thomas Farley, however, cautioned that about 7,000 people would still die in the city this year as a result of smoking-related problems.
Bloomberg, himself an ex-smoker, this year banned smoking in parks, beaches and outdoor gathering places such as Times Square. It is already forbidden in office buildings, bars and restaurants.
The city has also raised taxes on tobacco in an attempt to price cigarettes -- now some of the most expensive in the United States -- out of reach.
Earlier this year, officials said there were about 950,000 adult smokers and another 18,000 teenagers lighting up in the city of 8.4 million people.