We've Seen Enough! Local Teens Stand Up To Deadly In-Store Cigarette Advertising on World No Tobacco Day

WHITE PLAINS, NY (05/31/2011)(readMedia)-- This World No Tobacco Day, when it comes to in-store tobacco advertising, Hudson Valley youth want to send clear message to cigarette makers: we've seen enough!

Recruiting "replacement smokers," also known as kids, is a building block for big tobacco's marketing strategy. Recent surveys have shown kids are consistently targeted by flashy cigarette advertising in local stores. Today, May 31 at 4pm, local teens will join together on the front steps of White Plains City Hall to protest this deadly influence.

"Teens are tired of turning a blind eye to deadly in-store advertising," said Maureen Kenney, Director of POW'R Against Tobacco. "This is about standing up to these giant, cancer-causing, corporations and letting them know you won't allow them to push you into a lifelong tobacco addiction."

In efforts planned for World No Tobacco Day, Hudson Valley youth will gather to send a message that dangerous tobacco marketing should be removed from stores where kids shop. Unless community leaders and storeowners enforce change, covering their eyes will be the only way for kids to avoid this deadly influence.

In addition, a virtual demonstration will be held online as teens from across the state will post photos on a special Facebook page set up: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=114092028676472

An online petition urging people to take a stand against in-store advertising has also been posted at TobaccoFreeNYS.org.

"Research in the U.S. and abroad suggests that exposure to in-store tobacco promotions is a primary cause of youth smoking," said Ellen Reinhard, Director of TFAC of Ulster and SmokeFree Dutchess. "Very few adult smokers begin after high school, with 90 percent of adult smokers starting at or before age 18."

"The bottom line is that tobacco advertising attracts kids to smoking," said Irwin Berlin, MD board chair of the American Lung Association in New York. "If we're going to prevent another generation of Americans from succumbing to deadly tobacco-caused illnesses, we've got to do everything we can when it comes to preventing kids from ever starting to smoke. Eliminating in-your-face tobacco advertising at store check-out counters would be a good place to start."

In-store promotions are a major cause of youth smoking. A National Cancer Institute study concluded that exposure to cigarette advertising causes nonsmoking adolescents to initiate smoking and to move toward becoming regular smokers. Another study found young people are more likely to be influenced by cigarette advertising than by peer or parental smoking. A 2008 analysis found a direct relationship between increased teen smoking and the density of tobacco retailers around schools, while a paper published earlier this year found a direct relationship between the frequency that a kid visited stores containing tobacco advertising and his or her risk of becoming a smoker.

An annual survey, conducted by Baruch College Survey Research for the Hudson Valley Community Partnerships in June/July, illustrates overwhelming support from the community. A convincing 84% of Hudson Valley residents support the idea of requiring stores to keep all cigarette packs and other tobacco displays out of the sight of children.

As a result of the recent Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (FDA law) and the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA), retail stores are one of the last places where tobacco companies can expose kids to their advertising. Consequently, tobacco companies spend billions of dollars each year marketing their deadly products at the point of sale. This is done by controlling dominant display space in retail stores and through in-store advertising. Both are typically found around the cash register, sometimes referred to within the industry as the "goal post" because it is the one place in the store where everyone must go. Tobacco companies invest a lot at these locations in creating so-called "power walls," large, visually appealing displays of products intended to attract the interest of customers.

In addition to World No Tobacco Day efforts, the Hudson Valley New York State (NYS) Tobacco Control Program Partners annually celebrate the Great American Smokeout each November to raise awareness about the issue of the strong tobacco company presence in our stores and to encourage community members to take action to limit youth exposure to this dangerous and deadly influence.

About the Hudson Valley NYS Tobacco Control Program Partners

Community Partnerships (POW'R Against Tobacco, TFAC of Ulster, SmokeFree Dutchess, Sullivan County Tobacco-Free Coalition) educate community leaders and the public about the dangers and social costs of tobacco; engage local stakeholders to adopt policies and resolutions that will restrict tobacco industry presence, de-normalize tobacco use, and eliminate secondhand smoke in our communities.

Youth Action Programs (Putnam/Orange/Rockland Reality Check Programs) train youth to become activists in the movement to change community norms regarding tobacco use. These programs engage middle and high school aged youth in activities aimed at de-glamorizing and de-normalizing tobacco use in their communities.

About the American Lung Association in New York

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 American Lung Association, or to support our work, call 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or visit www.alany.org.