Big Tobacco Is Targeting NYC Kids For New Customers

Youth Targeted Tobacco Advertising Pervasive Throughout City, Tour Shows

(October 20, 2011)

Local youth from all five boroughs teamed up with the American Lung Association in New York and the New York City Coalition for A Smoke-Free City this week to lead decision makers on walking tours of each borough to highlight the presence of youth-targeted tobacco advertising. Tour participants walked the streets in each of the five boroughs where they encountered what our kids encounter each and every day:  tobacco advertising meant to appeal to youth and encourage them to smoke.Manhattan Tobacco Tour photo

“The tour I went on in the Bronx opened my eyes to the barrage of advertisements our kids are seeing every day on their way to school and as they walk through their neighborhood,” said Senator Gustavo Rivera (D-WF, the Bronx). “As a former smoker who struggled to quit, I believe we as a community need to do more to ensure that our youth never start smoking and to reduce the harmful impact this advertising has on our kids. I am proud that the Bronx has the lowest youth smoking rate in the city, but we must continue to work harder to bring that number down even lower.”

According to the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, the tobacco industry spends over a half a billion a year in New York State to market their addictive and deadly product.  That translates into $1.1 million each day.  A portion of this money is used to pay retailers to prominently display tobacco advertising in the most visible location in stores.  These tactics are very effective in helping the industry attract new customers. 

“We must prevent the next generation of New York City youth from ever starting to smoke in order to have a real impact on reducing smoking-caused disease and premature death,” said Michael Seilback, Vice President of Communications and Public Policy at the American Lung Association in New York.  “I am hopeful that these tours enlightened decision makers and the media as to what we’re up against and it results in more funding to help counteract Big Tobacco’s aggressive marketing.  The stakes are high.  It is estimated that 18,000 high school students now living in New York City smoke and a third of them will die prematurely as a result.”


“Through skillfully placed advertising, Big Tobacco has made it clear that they want our kids to buy their products, use their products and become lifelong customers, even if that cuts our kids’ lives short,” said Sheelah Feinberg,  Director of the NYC Coalition For a Smoke-Free City. “When tobacco is used as directed, it is likely to kill the user.  We will not accept this deliberate business practice to tempt our kids to light up and risk their lives.”

The American Lung Association in New York and the NYC Coalition for a Smoke-Free City hope that the tours will inspire further discussion with decision makers on how tobacco marketing can be limited to reduce the damaging effect it has on our youth.  Possible solutions the groups are advocating for include decreasing the visibility of tobacco marketing in stores, limiting the sale of tobacco near schools and prohibiting the sale of tobacco at pharmacies.


                                                ###              

Now in its second century, the American Lung Association in New York is the leading statewide organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. With your generous support, the American Lung Association is "Fighting for Air" through research, education and advocacy. For more information about the Lung Association, a Better Business Bureau Accredited Charity Seal Holder, or to support our work, call 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or visit www.alany.org


The NYC Coalition for a Smoke-Free City is a health advocacy group that works in all five boroughs to increase awareness of tobacco control issues among community members and policy makers. Partnering with the community, legislators and health advocates, we support neighborhood-based efforts for effective and long-term change throughout New York City. Learn more at www.nycsmokefree.org