To the editor:
The latest Report of the Surgeon General, included some devastating statistics. Every day, more than 1,200 people in the United States die due to smoking. For each of these deaths, at least two youth or young adults become regular smokers. Almost 90 percent of those replacement smokers smoke their first cigarette by age 18. Almost no one starts smoking after age 25. In other words, nearly 9 out of 10 smokers started smoking by age 18, and 99 percent started by age 26.
According to the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, Tobacco companies spend more than a million dollars an hour in this country to promote their product. Youth are targeted through Point of Sale marketing, when tobacco products and advertisements are highly visible where purchases are made, such as by the registers in convenience stores, and grocery stores, and pharmacies. Many tobacco products on the market appeal to youth specifically, in their packaging and/or flavor. Covering up tobacco products by implementing display regulations may help contribute to a decrease in youth smoking rates locally as it has in other countries, including Canada.
Community partnerships, like Adirondack Tobacco Free Network, focus their actions toward protecting youth from tobacco marketing. This is achieved through community education and mobilization. Adirondack Tobacco Free Network can provide informational materials about reducing tobacco advertising and promotion in your community, as well as, tobacco free policy development or tobacco cessation. If you are interested in learning more about how tobacco marketing influences youth behavior and youth smoking rates visit www.tobaccofreenys.org
Christa VanCour, Sr. Public Health Educator
Clinton County Health Department
Adirondack Tobacco Free Network