North Country Now News: Campaign on to educate about effect tobacco industry has on youth

(February 27, 2011)

Sunday, February 27, 2011

An innovative media campaign has begun to educate New Yorkers about the effect that tobacco industry products and marketing in stores have on youth smoking.

The Community Partnerships for a Tobacco Free New York campaign reflects research that in-store marketing is more powerful than peer pressure, and youth are twice as likely as adults to be influenced by tobacco product displays and other marketing.

Research has also shown that retailers near schools have more products on display and more signs.

Research on the industry shows that it spends half a billion dollars a year to market cigarettes in New York State, a portion of which is used to pay tobacco retailers to display tobacco products in the most visible location in the store — directly behind the counter where all customers must pay for their purchases.

A recent American Cancer Society survey of 677 New York state tobacco retailers reported that 88 percent of stores statewide display tobacco products directly behind the counter, and 79 percent of stores contained tobacco advertising.

“Thanks to the Community Partnerships for illustrating a problem which has largely gone unchecked: in-store tobacco marketing that is hooking our kids on a deadly product,” said Scott T. Santarella, President and CEO of the American Lung Association in New York.

“Because the average nonsmoking adult doesn’t pay close attention, there’s a faulty perception out there that this marketing isn’t doing any harm. Nothing could be further from the truth. These tactics are very effective in helping the industry get new customers. Sadly, those new customers are our kids,” Santarella said

Community Partnerships for a Tobacco Free New York are funded by the NY Tobacco Control Program. They educate community leaders and the public about the dangers and social costs of tobacco use, engage local stakeholders to adopt policies that restrict the tobacco industry’s presence, seek to de-normalize tobacco use and eliminate secondhand smoke.

For more information, visit TobaccoFreeNYS.org.