Protect youth from tobacco addiction

I would like to commend Project ACTION Tobacco-Free Coalition of Hamilton, Fulton & Montgomery Counties and their partners for their efforts in protecting our youth from the dangers of tobacco marketing through their Point of Sale Campaign. The purpose of the “Our Kids Have Seen Enough” campaign is to educate New Yorkers about the dangers of tobacco industry marketing in retail stores and the effect that this marketing has on our youth. With our day-to-day hectic schedules, we adults may not always notice the tremendous amount of tobacco marketing in the stores, but our children do. The bright, colorful tobacco displays are right there in direct view to our kids, as they stand at most any register in gas stations, grocery stores and convenience stores. Research and studies have proven how tobacco marketing impacts our youth. I would like to share some of the alarming facts:

Every day, the tobacco industry spends about $1 million in New York state to market its products.

Tobacco companies place most of their advertising where young people shop – in convenience stores, where 75 percent of teens shop at least once per week.

Youth who visit convenience stores more than twice per week are 64 percent more likely to begin smoking within the next 12 months than their peers who visit convenience stores less than once per week.

Each year in this state, 22,500 youth become new daily smokers, and 31.6 million packs of cigarettes are bought or smoked by New York state children.

There is about one licensed tobacco retailer for every 194 children in New York state.

The more tobacco retailers there are near schools, the more likely children are to smoke.

Young people are almost twice as likely as adults to recall tobacco advertising.

In 2008, tobacco companies spent $9.8 billion nationally on advertising, promotions and price discounts for wholesalers and retailers. That is more than the amount spent to market junk food, soda and alcohol combined.

As a youth advocate and community partner, I urge community members and parents to join forces and support Project ACTION in its continued fight to protect our youth from the harmful effects of tobacco marketing. Let’s take a stand and help protect our youth from a lifetime of tobacco addiction.

BRENDA RAVA, Executive director,

Montgomery County Dept. of Youth, Alternatives to Incarceration & Veterans’ Services