One of the first things I noticed after moving to Schenectady was the prevalence of smokers. It seemed that everywhere I went someone was smoking. Even my current neighbors smoke. In the Summer, the whiff of cigarettes comes in through my windows.
I especially noticed this because I moved from a place that restricted smoking almost everywhere (California). No smoking restrictions existed at bus stops, in front of businesses, in any commercial zone, and near any medical center. Parks were also restricted, but it seemed that only the tobacco smoking ban was actually enforced, but not other forms of smoking.
My initial impressions were confirmed when the results of the UMatter survey were released showing that more than 37% of Schenectady residents were current smokers. This compares with a national average of 18.1% according to the CDC. Once might think the high rates of smoking correlate with Schenectady’s relatively high rate of poverty, but the breakdown at the CDC suggests it may be more closely related to the education level of the community (9.1% smoking rate for a person with a college diploma vs. almost 42% for a person with a GED).
Even the very high tax rate on cigarettes in NY has not seemed to deter Schenectady residents from smoking.
So what can be done about the high rate of smoking? Many health professionals are working on this issue, and I don’t have much more to add. But one easy switch that can reduce the negative impact of smoking on others would be to promote the use of E-cigarettes, or vapes, instead. If my neighbors all used E-cigarettes instead of regular ones, I wouldn’t have to frequently inhale second-hand smoke, and we may be able to avoid one of these sticky situations.
Yet states and the Federal government are starting to restrict their sales. That is a shame.