POV: Much left to do in fight against youth tobacco use

Tobacco product displays, on average, take up 34 square feet of space in the most visible location in stores – directly behind the checkout counter. In pharmacies the displays are even larger, consuming as much as 50 square feet. Nonsmoking adults may not even notice these displays, but kids do. As tobacco industry documents note, “Eye level is buy level.” Kids see, they notice, and they remember. And the more tobacco marketing kids see, the more likely they are to smoke, a fact highlighted in the U.S. Surgeon General’s most recent report on “Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults.”

The Capital District Tobacco-Free Coalition is one of 33 community partners statewide working to decrease the harmful effects of tobacco marketing on young people. Many countries throughout the world (including Canada, England and Australia) have already made significant progress and their successes encourage us to pursue the following solutions.

  • Cover up tobacco products in retail stores. Covering up tobacco is easy, inexpensive and it works to reduce the youth smoking rate.

  • End the sale of tobacco in pharmacies. No doctor would ever prescribe tobacco. So why do pharmacies sell it? As the face of neighborhood healthcare, there is no place for tobacco products in pharmacies.

  • Do not allow tobacco retailers to be located near schools. There is currently one tobacco retailer for every 194 children in New York State with far too many of them located in close proximity to schools.

  • Reduce the number of tobacco retailers overall. The higher the number of tobacco retailers in a particular area, the higher the smoking rate of adults and teens. Reducing the number of tobacco retailers in communities that currently have a particularly high number would help reduce the impact of tobacco marketing and subsequently, the smoking rate.

If you’ve seen enough tobacco marketing to kids, there are lots of ways you can help. Visit www.SmokeFreeCapital.org to learn how.

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