Tobacco marketing causes youth smoking

Every day, our kids are exposed to a tremendous amount of tobacco marketing in convenience stores, gas stations, pharmacies and grocery stores. It is not an accident that tobacco products are displayed in the most visible location in stores – directly behind the checkout counter. Exposure to tobacco marketing in stores is a primary cause of youth smoking, so we need to take action to protect our kids.

Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable deaths in the nation, and it costs New York taxpayers more than $8 billion annually in health care costs. Retail stores are the main channels of communication for the tobacco industry, and they spend more money to market their products than the junk food, soda and alcohol industries combined. Seventy-five percent of teens shop in convenience stores at least once per week, and research shows that exposure to tobacco marketing is a primary cause of youth smoking. Retailers located in minority communities tend to market cheaper cigarettes or provide more “buy one, get one” deals than those in more affluent, non-minority communities.

Research shows that kids who shop at stores with tobacco marketing two or more times a week are 64 percent more likely to start smoking than their peers who don’t. Parents and community members don’t realize that just by seeing these displays, our kids are more likely to smoke and fall prey to a lifetime of tobacco addiction.

Each year, 22,500 youth in New York state become new daily smokers and 31.6 million packs of cigarettes are bought or smoked by New York state. There is one licensed tobacco retailer for every 194 children in New York state. On average, these retailers provide 32 square feet behind the checkout counter for tobacco displays. Research also shows that retailers near schools have more products on display and more signs and tend to offer significantly lower cigarette prices than other stores in the community.

Concerned community members and parents can take action to protect our kids at


Community health nurse and Project Action Anti-Tobacco Coalition member,

Montgomery County Public Health