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

Big Tobacco Is Targeting Staten Island Kids For Customers

Local youth from Staten Island teamed up today with the American Lung Association in New York, the Staten Island Smoke Free Partnership and Reality Check 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 Curtis High School and toured the streets of Staten Island.

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. 

“It is truly appalling how invasive tobacco advertising has become in our community and across this city,” said Assemblyman Lou Tobacco (R,I,C-Staten Island).  “Our children are being raised to think that buying a pack of cigarettes is no different than buying a pack of gum. Allowing tobacco companies to plaster ads over every inch of available space sends the wrong message to our kids and hurts our efforts to keep young people from falling into addiction. This is a serious problem on Staten Island and I am not willing to gamble with our children’s lives for the sake of a few ad sales.”


“We must prevent the next generation of Staten Island 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.”

“Because Staten Island has some of the highest youth smoking rates, our Partnership is doing all it can to insure that Big Tobacco does not lure our kids into becoming the next generation of tobacco addicts with their deadly tobacco advertising in our stores,”  said Adrienne Abbate, Borough Manager at the Staten Island Smoke Free Partnership.

The American Lung Association in New York , the Staten Island 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.


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