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

Big Tobacco Is Targeting Bronx Kids For Customers

Local youth from the Bronx teamed up today with the American Lung Association in New York and the Bronx 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 the Highbridge Community Life Center and toured the streets of the Bronx.


“Today’s tour opened my eyes to the barrage of advertisements our youth what 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.”

"In Highbridge we have a large concentration of tobacco ads, and our children are being bombarded by these images on their way to school each day,” said Senator Jose Serrano (D-Manhattan/Bronx). “So much progress has been made when it comes to reducing smoking in our city, and these ads only serve to undermine what we have accomplished. I would like to thank the American Lung Association in New York, the Bronx Smoke Free Partnership, and the Highbridge Community Life Center for offering this tour and shedding light on the importance of reducing the amount of tobacco advertisements in local storefronts.”

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 Bronx 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.”

“Though the Bronx may have among the lowest rates of youth smoking in New York City, our Partnership is doing all it can to insure that Big Tobacco does not lure our youth into becoming the next generation of tobacco addicts with their deadly tobacco advertising in our stores,” said David Lehmann, Borough Manager of the Bronx Smoke Free Partnership.


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