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Report: NY a National Leader in Increasing Smoke-Free Households

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Thursday, October 28, 2021   

NEW YORK -- Although New York and the country as a whole saw some progress surrounding the health of children and women, a new report showed there is still work to be done to improve maternal and mental health.

United Health Foundation's new report found prior to the pandemic, teen birth rates and cigarette smoking among women were on the decline. From 2019 to 2020, New York state had one of the lowest rates for children living in a house with tobacco smoke exposure.

Lisa David, president and CEO of the nonprofit Public Health Solutions, said they have worked with the New York City Housing Authority to help convert 20,000 affordable-housing units to smoke-free as of last year.

"In buildings where there is smoking allowed, you find very strong evidence of smoking byproducts in the apartments of people who don't smoke," David observed. "A lot of them have young children, and it's one of many, but a key source of irritants that create respiratory problems like asthma."

Through its program NYC Smoke-Free, Public Health Solutions also works to decrease the number of teens who smoke through educational programming.

The United Health Foundation report also found between 2018 and 2019, 79% of New York women ages 18-44 had been to their doctor for a well visit, among the highest in the country.

Dr. Ravi Johar, chief medical officer with UnitedHealthcare, pointed out on a national level, many women experienced mental-health challenges in the lead-up to the pandemic.

"Shockingly, about one in five women, a little over 18% of women in the United States, said that out of the last 30 days, they did not feel mentally well for 14 of those," Johar reported. "So for more than half the month, one in five women did not feel well."

The report found some challenges for New York include limited access to adequate housing conditions and low immunization rates in young children. Other conclusions were maternal mortality rates continuing to rise nationwide, with racial disparities among Black women persisting.

Disclosure: United Healthcare contributes to our fund for reporting on Health Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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