American Lung Association Honors Wegmans For Decision To Halt Tobacco Sales Nationwide
ALBANY, NY (06/05/2008)(readMedia)-- The American Lung Association recently presented Wegmans Food Markets, Inc. with the Lung Champion Award to recognize the company’s January 2008 decision to halt the sale of tobacco products at 70 stores across the nation, and for its overall commitment to public health.
“The American Lung Association of New York State commends Wegmans for its leadership in removing cigarettes from store shelves and putting the public health of its employees and customers above profits,” said Deborah Carioto, President and CEO of the American Lung Association of New York State. “Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in this country, and with the single act of halting tobacco sales in its stores, Wegmans has set what I hope will be a trend among major retailers in this country.”
Mary Ellen Burris, Senior Vice President for Consumer Affairs for Wegmans accepted the award and said “Wegmans believes that the many young people who work in our stores will be affected by the message the company they work for is willing to give up profits out of concern for their health.”
Wegmans is also a leader in offering smoking cessation programs to its employees. There are currently 550 Wegmans employees who are enrolled in the program.
The American Lung Association of New York State continues to make fighting tobacco a priority, both in Congress and here in New York State.
On a state level, the American Lung Association led the fight to increase the excise tax on tobacco. In the 2007 State of Tobacco Control report, New York State received 3 A’s and a C. The C was a result of New York’s low tobacco excise tax. However, with the June 3 increase in tobacco excise tax, New York State became the national public health leader in tobacco taxation. By making smoking expensive and inconvenient, the increase will eventually save the lives of over 77,000 youth who will be prevented from becoming smokers, and save more then 37,000 adult New Yorkers from a tobacco-caused death by helping them quit.
“Making smoking expensive and inconvenient saves lives,” said Ross Lanzafame, (Rochester, NY) Board Chair of the American Lung Association of New York State and a member of the American Lung Association national board. “By raising the excise tax, New York State made smoking more expensive, and the decision by Wegmans to halt tobacco sales will save lives by making smoking inconvenient.”
On the federal level, the American Lung Association continues to encourage Congress to pass the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which will grant the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority to regulate tobacco products, including marketing to children.
Studies show that kids are three times more sensitive to tobacco advertising than adults, and that kids are more influenced to smoke by tobacco advertising than by peer pressure. Knowing this, the tobacco industry spends over $15 billion annually to target marketing to our youth.
To fight back against Big Tobacco, the American Lung Association supports programs that ask local tobacco retailers to reduce, remove and rearrange tobacco advertising in and around their stores. Wegmans took this a step further by removing the tobacco entirely.
Wegmans Food Markets, Inc. is a 70-store supermarket chain with stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, and Maryland. The family-owned company, founded in 1916, is recognized as an industry leader and innovator. Wegmans has been named one of the ‘100 Best Companies to Work For’ by FORTUNE magazine for ten consecutive years. In 2008, Wegmans ranked #3 on the list.
Since 1904, the American Lung Association of New York State has worked tirelessly to promote health and prevent lung disease across New York State. The premier lung health resource in New York State and across the nation, the American Lung Association helps to protect and educate over ten million New Yorkers across 57 counties. With the generous support of the public, the American Lung Association is “Improving life, one breath at a time.” For more information about the American Lung Association of New York state or to support the work we do, call 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or visit us online at www.alanys.org.