The majority of New Yorkers believe that heroin and prescription opioid abuse are serious public health problems in the state, according to a survey released by the state Department of Health on Tuesday.
State health officials and Siena College conducted the annual survey to gauge public health sentiment in the state and measure how New Yorkers feel about health issues, policies, and behaviors. The survey found that many New Yorkers are pessimistic about the state of public health, with only 25% of respondents believing Americans are healthier today compared to a generation ago.
As the COVID-19 pandemic nears its third year, the survey is particularly noteworthy as opioid-related overdose deaths continue to rise in New York and around the country. The survey found that 88% of respondents believe heroin use is either a very serious or somewhat serious public health problem. A similar number, 90%, believe the misuse of prescription opioids is a very serious or somewhat serious public health problem.
In addition to opioid abuse, the survey also revealed other public health issues that are a cause for concern among New Yorkers. For instance, 85% of respondents believe tobacco use is either a somewhat or serious problem for public health, while 82% hold the same view regarding e-cigarette and vaping usage. Furthermore, 77% of New Yorkers surveyed call alcohol consumption a serious problem.
Despite the pessimistic tone of the survey, a large majority of New Yorkers support the implementation of specific public health policies. For instance, 85% of respondents support requiring employers to offer paid sick leave to all workers for health screenings. Meanwhile, 64% back increasing the age limit to use indoor tanning devices to 21 years of age, and 59% want all 11 and 12-year-olds to receive the papillomavirus vaccine.
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