To the Editor:
The most anticipated activity of Halloween, trick or treating, has become the favored tactic of the tobacco industry. Our kids are tricked into smoking for the promised treat of being cool or glamorous, but left with a nicotine addiction and ill health that haunts many for a lifetime.
The 2012 report, Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults: A Report of the Surgeon General, concluded that tobacco industry marketing causes youth tobacco use. Research shows that kids see and respond to tobacco marketing messages in stores that adults don’t notice. The result of all this marketing is more than 22,000 New York kids under 18 become new daily smokers each year.
According to the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, the tobacco industry spends $1 million a day in New York State to market its deadly products in stores. At almost every convenience store in New York State, kids are inundated with colorful tobacco displays surrounding the cash registers and tempted by cigarettes in candy colored packages. They pay retailers to display tobacco products in these highly visible locations where youth are continually exposed. Licensed tobacco retailers in New York State display an average of 18 ads per store and over 82 percent of retailers dedicate 50 percent or more of the merchandising space behind the counter to openly visible tobacco products.
Teen smoking remains a problem. According to the Surgeon General, 3.6 million middle and high school students currently smoke cigarettes. If teens don’t start smoking by age 18, they will likely never smoke which makes youth prevention so important.
Benjamin R. Todd, Tobacco Program Coordinator