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

Big Tobacco Is Targeting Manhattan Kids For Customers

Local youth from Manhattan teamed up today with the American Lung Association in New York and the Manhattan 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 Sara D. Roosevelt Plaza and toured streets in Manhattan’s Lower East Side.Manhattan Tobacco Tour photo

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 Manhattan 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.”

“Today’s event exposes the tobacco industry’s deceitful marketing practices in retailers that are near our schools, playgrounds and parks,” said Maria Pico, Borough Manager for the Manhattan Smoke-Free Partnership. “Approximately 90% of smokers started before age 18.  Knowing this, the tobacco industry targets our youth for this reason.  We need strong public health policy to protect New York City kids from being tricked into a lifelong tobacco addition.”

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