Brooklyn Community Leaders Take a Walk in Kids’ Shoes and See Pervasive Tobacco Marketing

Big Tobacco Is Targeting Brooklyn Kids For Customers

Local youth from Brooklyn teamed up today with the American Lung Association in New York and the Brooklyn  Smoke Free Partnership to lead decision makers and the media  on a tour of the rampant tobacco advertising they encounter each day while walking the streets of their community. The group met at Sternberg Park and toured the streets of Williamsburg.


“Smoking is the leading cause of preventable and premature death,” said Council Member Diana Reyna.  "We must continue protecting youth from tobacco marketing and limit their exposure to advertisements – we’re grateful that the American Lung Association and the Brooklyn Smoke-Free Partnership are working diligently to educate communities about the dangers of tobacco marketing, and the negative effect it has on our youth.“

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 Brooklyn 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 this tour 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 bottom line is, when used as directed, tobacco kills – and the fact that 90% of smokers begin before the age of 18 – makes that an even scarier statistic,”  said Rachelle Rochelle, Borough Manager of the Brooklyn Smoke-Free Partnership.  “Luckily, we believe that this statistic can change. Partnering with the community, legislators and health advocates throughout Brooklyn, it is our mission to shed light on Big Tobacco’s marketing and advertising practices targeted at youth.

 “Big Tobacco has made it clear that they want our kids to buy their products, use their products, and become lifelong customers. It is our job to stand up, be heard, and put our youth first. We will no longer accept targeted and deceptive marketing practices in our community.”

The American Lung Association in New York , the Brooklyn Smoke Free Partnership and the NYC Coalition for a Smoke-Free City hope that today’s tour 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

The Brooklyn  Smoke-Free Partnership is a health advocacy group that increases awareness of tobacco control advocacy issues in Brooklyn 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 Brooklyn. We are funded through grants from the Department of Health and Human Services and the New York State Department of Health.  Learn more at