New York State Department of Health Releases Latest Report on Tobacco-Related Cancers in New York State

Rates for Many Tobacco-Related Cancers Decreased from 2006 to 2020

New York State Increases Cigarette Tax, Effective September 1

ALBANY, N.Y. (September 14, 2023)– The New York State Department of Health today released a report, "Tobacco-Related Cancers In New York State 2016 – 2020," which finds that several of the cancers most closely related to smoking have declined throughout the state. Smoking rates continue to decline as New York State passes strong tobacco control policies.

"The decline in tobacco-related cancers demonstrates the progress we've made in New York State in supporting cessation for those addicted to tobacco and preventing youth from starting to smoke," State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said. "I thank Governor Hochul for her commitment to policy changes, like the recently enacted $1 cigarette tax increase, that are improving the health of all New Yorkers. Though our work is not done, we will continue to take a comprehensive approach to eliminating tobacco-related illness and death."

Approximately 46,000 cases of tobacco-related cancers are diagnosed in New York State each year. Among the four cancers most closely related to tobacco, incident rates of esophageal, laryngeal, and lung cancer have steeply declined both in New York City and the rest of the state. However, oral cancer increased by 1.3 percent annually from 2006-2020 among individuals residing outside New York City.

The prevalence of current smoking rates among adults varies by county and is generally lower in New York City and neighboring counties. Overall, smoking rates have been declining over time in New York State. Since 2020, only 12 percent of adults in New York State are current smokers meeting the federal Healthy People 2020 goal. Youth cigarette smoking rates have reached an all-time low of 2.1 percent.

Other notable findings of the report include:

  • Tobacco-related cancers make up 40 percent of all New York State cancer cases diagnosed annually.
  • Lung cancer is the largest contributor to both new cancer diagnoses and cancer deaths.
  • Smoking accounts for a greater number and a higher proportion of deaths in males than females.
  • Cancer rates for the four cancers most closely related to tobacco (cancers of the lung, larynx, oral cavity, and esophagus) are greatest among non-Hispanic white persons for all cancers except laryngeal cancer.
  • In 2020, 22.5 percent of New York State high school students reported use of e-cigarettes in the past 30 days; 6.8 percent of middle school students reported the same.

Since 2000, the New York State Department of Health Bureau of Tobacco Control has administered the state's comprehensive Tobacco Control Program to reduce illness, disability, and death related to commercial tobacco use and secondhand smoke exposure, and to alleviate social and economic inequities caused by tobacco use. The program uses an evidence-based, policy-driven, and population-level approach to tobacco control and prevention with a commitment to promote health equity among populations disproportionately impacted by tobacco marketing and use.

New York State has had tremendous policy accomplishments in tobacco control, preventing tobacco use especially among youth, increasing access to quitting and cessation services, and improving overall health outcomes. Most recently, on September 1, as part of Governor Hochul's tobacco reduction strategy, a $1 tax increase on cigarettes became effective, making New York's state cigarette tax the strongest in the United States.

Other accomplishments include in 2019 raising the minimum legal age to purchase tobacco to 21 years of age, and in 2020, ending the sale of all tobacco products in pharmacies, restricting the sale of flavored e-liquids and online sale of all vaping products, restricting the use of coupons and other discounts that that lower the cost of tobacco products, and implementing a 20 percent tax on vapor products.

The Department is also an active member of the New York State Cancer Consortium, a statewide network made up of more than 200 members from the public and private sectors whose missions are aligned with reducing risk factors related to cancer, addressing disparities in cancer incidence and mortality, and ultimately achieving the goals and objectives of the New York State Comprehensive Cancer Control Plan.

For help with quitting, including counseling and medication, talk to a health care provider. For information on how to quit smoking or vaping tobacco or nicotine, the New York State Smokers' Quitline provides free and confidential services that include information, tools, quit coaching, and support in both English and Spanish. Services are available by calling 1-866-NY-QUITS (1-866-697-8487), texting (716) 309-4688, or visiting, for information, to chat online with a Quit Coach, or to sign up for Learn2QuitNY, a six-week, step-by-step text messaging program to build the skills needed to quit any tobacco product.

Individuals aged 13 to 24 can text "DropTheVape" to 88709 to receive age-appropriate quit assistance. The Department of Health continues to provide quitting and cessation support for youth and young adults to receive free, anonymous, and confidential texting services.

More information about the Department's Tobacco Control Program is available here.