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New Yorkers Breathe Easier Than Ever

Smoking rates have plummeted since NYC's ban was introduced. Is that why Saudi Arabia is following suit?

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Lucky for this guy, smoking is still legal.
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By Gabrielle Wuhl

07/30/12

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Smoking violations and smoking rates in New York City have drastically decreased in the past ten years, health records show, signally a big success for a 10-year-old ban. Mayor Michael Bloomberg's 2002 anti-smoking legislation prohibiting smoking inside public places—in addition to last year's ban on smoking in public beaches and parks—has coincided with an 83% decline in smoking violations issued in the last decade. Of the 350 smoking-related violations issued this past year, 33% were in devil-may-care Manhattan, 28% in both Brooklyn and Queens, 7% in the Bronx and just 4% in Staten Island. And here's a big bonus: the proportion of NYC residents who smoke has dropped from 22% to 14%—well below than the national average of 19.3%. Once highly controversial, similar smoking laws have been passed in other regions and countries. Perhaps surprisingly, one country that's paid attention to smoking bans' success is Saudi Arabia. As of today, the Middle-Eastern monarchy implemented a ban in government offices and most public places. It's a timely bid to improve the nation's health: Saudi stats show that the country is the world's fourth largest importer of tobacco and that residents spend about $8 million a day on cigarettes.

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