Massena and Louisville annual Relay for Life event set for June 7
Friday, May 31, 2013 - 3:18 pm

To the Editor:

June 7, 2013 marks the 18th Annual Relay For Life of Massena/Louisville.

Survivors, caregivers and supporters come together to honor those that have survived cancer and those who have lost the battle, as well as raise money to continue the fight.

It's an experience like none other, and I encourage all to attend this year's event at the Louisville Community Center. Prior to our June Relay, the World Health Organization (WHO) will be promoting “World No Tobacco Day” on May 31, 2013.

It’s only right for us to recognize this date as a way to bring attention to our high tobacco use rates in St. Lawrence County (27% compared to 19% statewide) and to focus on youth tobacco use prevention.

The WHO’s current focus is on tobacco marketing in stores and its effect on youth tobacco use habits. By now, our area’s high cancer rates and cancer mortality statistics are well-known.

Lung and bronchus cancers account for roughly 17% of all cancer cases in St. Lawrence County, but 30% of all cancer deaths. This disproportionate mortality rate illustrates how important it is to do everything that we can to prevent our kids from becoming addicted to nicotine.

The issue is becoming more and more important as we begin to see new, flavored tobacco products entering the market, which are clearly focused on capturing the attention of youth.

These candy-flavored products are being marketed on the counter at a child’s eye level in some of our local stores. Knowing that the vast majority of smokers became addicted before the age of 18, we should not ignore this obvious attempt to recruit what tobacco companies cynically refer to as "replacement smokers".

As we memorialize lost loved ones and honor survivors in this year’s Relay For Life, I am hopeful that we also keep in mind ways that we can protect our kids from the destructive influence of the tobacco industry so that they might live healthy, happy, and productive lives, as would be every parent's wish.

Marsha Sienkiewicz, Massena