Cortland health officials urge action on 'World No Tobacco Day'

The following is a republished press release from a community organization and not an article written by The Cortland submit a press release, community announcement or information about another upcoming event, email Editor Peter Blanchard at [email protected].

CORTLAND, N.Y. – Youth in this region have seen enough tobacco marketing, according to Tobacco Free Zone – Cortland, Tompkins, Chenango, and it’s time to protect them and put an end to youth smoking and other tobacco use. To safeguard children from the billions of dollars of vivid tobacco marketing in places where they can see it, the #SeenEnoughTobacco campaign launches regionally and statewide on World No Tobacco Day, May 31.

The campaign takes a hard look at what’s happening with tobacco marketing and children through the use of video, social media (#SeenEnoughTobacco), digital advertising and a “Jack and Jill (and Tobacco)” storybook that describes children’s encounters with tobacco marketing in convenience stores.

Provocative images creatively combine cigarettes with common children’s items, like crayons and birthday cake, in scenarios intended to grab the attention of community members and parents and prompt their outrage. Viewers will be compelled to learn what they can do to protect children from tobacco marketing at the campaign’s new website

In New York State, the average age of a new smoker is 13 years old, 1 and 90 percent of adult smokers say they first tried smoking by age 18. The U.S. Surgeon General calls smoking a “pediatric epidemic” and says, “Advertising and promotional activities by tobacco companies have been shown to cause the onset and continuation of smoking among adolescents and young adults.” Even with all of this data, research shows stores popular among adolescents contain almost three times more tobacco marketing materials compared to other stores in the same community.

“If the tobacco industry ISN’T marketing to youth, why are they spending billions of dollars in places that kids visit regularly?” asked Anthony Billoni from the Roswell Park Cancer Institute. “Every day in New York State, the tobacco industry spends more than half a million dollars to market its products in places where children can see them using bright, bold colors and large signs. Whether you’re a parent or not, smoker or non-smoker, we can all agree that tobacco marketing’s influence on our children is outrageous.

It’s our responsibility as a community to protect our children from tobacco marketing and put an end to this pediatric epidemic.”

Additional findings on tobacco industry marketing and the effect of smoking on children and young adolescents indicate:

  • The tobacco industry spends billions of dollars on promotions, in places where children can see them.
    • More than 92 percent of high school students reported awareness of pro-tobacco marketing in 2014. 5 This includes 85 percent awareness of advertising in the retail environment.
    • The U.S. tobacco industry spent an estimated $9.5 billion on advertising and promotion of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco in 2013. This includes nearly $220 million annually in New York State, or nearly $602,000 a day.
  • Smoking at an early age is likely to have a detrimental impact on the health of young people.
    • An “earlier age of onset of smoking marks the beginning of exposure to the many harmful components of smoking. This is during an age range when growth is not complete and susceptibility to the damaging effects of tobacco smoke may be enhanced,” according to the U.S. Surgeon General.
    • There is also sufficient evidence from the U.S. Surgeon General to infer a causal relationship between active smoking and:
      • Impaired lung growth, respiratory symptoms and asthma-related symptoms
      • Early onset lung function decline during late adolescence and early adulthood
    • 5.6 million children under the age of 18 who are alive today will die prematurely as a result of smoking, including 280,000 children in New York State alone. during childhood and adolescence

About Tobacco Free Zone – Cortland, Tompkins, Chenango

The New York State Department of Health, Bureau of Tobacco Control funds Tobacco Free Zone – Cortland, Tompkins, Chenango to increase support for New York State’s tobacco-free norm through youth action and community engagement. Efforts are evidence-based, policy-driven, and cost-effective approaches that decrease youth tobacco use, motivate adult smokers to quit, and eliminate exposure to secondhand smoke.