County backs effort against tobacco marketing

FONDA – Montgomery County has joined Fulton County in supporting the idea of keeping tobacco products out of consumer view at retail establishments that allow children into them.

During its Tuesday board meeting, the Montgomery County Legislature voted unanimously to approve a resolution on the issue.

On May 12, a divided Fulton County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution that supported the same idea. Some Fulton County supervisors said the county shouldn’t dictate what private businesses do.

The village of Hagaman approved a similar measure last year.

The resolutions adopted by the local governments place no restrictions on retailers. Placing restrictions would require additional steps.

Susan Arminio, project coordinator for Project Action Tobacco Coalition of Hamilton, Fulton & Montgomery Counties, said during the Montgomery County Legislature meeting the resolutions are aimed at eventually getting tobacco marketing out of the sight of children.

Project Action is an organization committed to preventing tobacco use by young people, promoting the quitting of smoking, eliminating exposure to secondhand smoke and decreasing the social acceptability of tobacco use.

“It is really exciting that [the measure] passed,” Arminio said after the Montgomery County Legislature meeting. “It is just exciting to see tobacco marketing out of stores.”

Arminio said 90 percent of smokers will smoke their first cigarette by the age of 18. In New York state, more than 132,000 high school students smoke, she said.

“Youth smoking is still a problem,” Arminio said.

Arminio said tobacco marketing in stores is a primary cause of youth smoking.

One of Project Action’s ongoing programs is getting tobacco marketing out of the view of youths.

According to Project Action, 10 countries, including Canada, require tobacco products be covered behind the counters of retail stores.

The county resolutions are the first step toward removing tobacco products from view in stores, Arminio said. She said the individual counties would have to decide how to proceed next in requiring businesses to keep the products out of view.

Montgomery County District 7 Legislator Barabara Wheeler said she supported the resolution, having lost her mother to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which is caused by smoking.

“I have a 10-year-old, so I’m optimistic for the next generation,” Wheeler said.

More information about Project Action can be found at www.projectactionhfm.org.