To the Editor:
A recent report from the Surgeon General cites studies which indicate that one-half of all long-term smokers, primarily those who began smoking in adolescence, will eventually die from their use of tobacco. If half of all long-term smokers will be killed by tobacco, then doing all we can to prevent the next generation from starting to smoke is vital.
Research shows that removing point of sale displays of tobacco has a measurable impact on how young people think about tobacco, and helps underline that they are not normal consumer products. Studies have also shown that young people are more likely to be influenced by cigarette advertising than by peer or parental smoking. The more that can be done to make tobacco less attractive, the more likely we are to prevent young people from smoking.
For too long tobacco companies have packed stores with eye-catching, strategically placed walls of cigarettes, which remain though many other forms of cigarette advertising have been removed.
Although progress has been made, approximately one in five adults in St. Lawrence County continue to smoke regularly. Ninety percent of current smokers began at or before the age of eighteen. The tobacco companies are aware of these statistics, as they search for new “replacement smokers” to make up for the 25,000 that die each year from smoking related illness in New York State alone.
As 2010 comes to an end let’s start thinking about what we can do to create a healthier future for all the people of St. Lawrence County.
St. Lawrence County Tobacco Program Coordinator