NEW YORK, May 12 (UPI) -- New York City has recorded the biggest short-term decline in smokers ever, with 11 percent fewer in 2003, the New York Times said Wednesday.
Surveys commissioned by the city said that after holding steady for a decade, the number of regular smokers dropped more than 100,000 in a little more than a year, to 19.3 percent of adults from 21.6 percent.
The survey also found a 13 percent decline in cigarette consumption, suggesting that smokers who did not quit were smoking less.
City health officials and opponents of smoking said they attribute the decline to sharply higher tobacco taxes that went into effect in 2002, including an increase to $1.50 from 8 cents a pack in the city.
The drop also coincided with a new city law banning smoking in bars and a new state law prohibiting it in restaurants and bars.
At least one tobacco manufacture was skeptical of the results.
"You have some people just saying, `I'm not going to pay that much' and quitting, but I seriously doubt" the figure of 11 percent, said John Singleton, a spokesman for the R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.