By Jessica Bakeman
ALBANY - A state study released Monday shows that tobacco retailers are more prevalent in neighborhoods with higher proportions of minority and low-income New Yorkers.
The report from the state Department of Health examined the relationship between demographics such as communities' income, racial makeup and average age with the density of tobacco retailers. The results, shown statewide and within several cities, show that communities with higher proportions of black and Hispanic people and with lower incomes generally had more tobacco retailers.
"The fact that tobacco marketing is more likely to take place in areas where minority and low-income New Yorkers live is especially concerning as these groups may be particularly vulnerable to industry practices that recruit new smokers, as demonstrated by their higher tobacco use rates," Yvonne Graham, a health department director, said in a statement.
The report, first published last month in the journal "Public Health," looked at the New York City area and upstate, as well as, specifically, Buffalo, Rochester, Albany and Syracuse.
The health department used the report to highlight what the state argues is a need for tobacco prevention programs.
New York has a five-year plan, starting this year, to promote smoking cessation, especially among low-income New Yorkers or those with poor mental health.
The state is aiming to decrease cigarette smoking prevalence among adults from 18.4 percent in 2011 to 15 percent by 2017.
The state will also try to reduce income disparity in smoking, decreasing the prevalence of smoking among adults with incomes less than $25,000 from 28.5 percent in 2011 to 20 percent in 2017.
The report comes as New York City just proposed raising the legal age for using tobacco from 18 to 21 - the highest smoking age of a major city in the U.S.