To the editor:
I would like to applaud New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg for his efforts to protect children from deceptive tobacco marketing.
Yes, tobacco is a legal product, but what other product do we allow in the marketplace that kills one out of three of its users? If three jumbo jets crashed every day, the public would demand a recall. However, nearly 1,200 people die every day, the equivalent of those three jumbo jets, from tobacco-related illnesses.
Let's do the math. According to the U.S. surgeon general, for each tobacco-related death, two people must replace them, and 90 percent of current smokers started before the age of 18. Who are the replacements? Kids.
What do you think the largest contributing factor is to such a high volume of underage smoking? Peer pressure? Parents? Advertising. Individuals under the age of 18 are most susceptible to tobacco marketing because it is developed and designed to be noticed by the young eye. The tobacco companies know that kids are most susceptible to advertising, and that's why they spend 90 percent of the marketing budget in the retail location (from colorful displays to price discounts). Next time you are in a convenience store or pharmacy, take note of where the most colorful and eye-catching advertising is. It is located about 3 to 4 feet off the ground, the average eye level of a child. For a company that spends $1.1 million a day to market its product, placing their most colorful imagery at a child's eye level is no accident.
So once again, I would like to thank Mayor Bloomberg for being an advocate for those who are being preyed on by deceptive marketing. Children and teens do not realize that tobacco is a highly addictive product with lethal consequences. If there is something we can all advocate for, it's the protection and safety of the children in our community.