As a member of Project ACTION, a partnership of people and organizations from Hamilton, Fulton and Montgomery counties, our mission is to systematically reduce tobacco use in Hamilton, Fulton and Montgomery counties. We have been working to attain these goals: Prevent the initiation of tobacco use among youth; promote smoking cessation; and eliminate exposure to second-hand smoke and to decrease the social acceptability of tobacco use.
Our current objective is the "This is Tobacco Marketing" and "Kids who see it are more likely to smoke" campaign. The purpose of this media campaign is to educate New Yorkers about the dangers of tobacco industry marketing in retail stores, and the effect that this marketing has on New York's youth. In-store tobacco displays can influence kids' smoking, increasing the likelihood of teenagers being susceptible to initiating, experimenting or becoming current smokers. Non-smoking adults often do not even notice tobacco products and marketing, but children do. And the more tobacco marketing children observe, the more likely they are to begin smoking.
Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable deaths in the nation, and smoking costs New York state taxpayers more than $8 billion annually in healthcare costs. Retail stores are the main channel of communication for the tobacco industry, and they spend more money to market their products than the junk food, soda and alcohol industries combined. Seventy-five percent of teens shop in convenience stores at least once per week, and research shows that exposure to tobacco marketing is a primary cause of youth smoking.
Please take notice the next time you are shopping. Educate and prevent the teens in your life from smoking or using tobacco products before they get hooked.
For more information, visit www.projectactionhfm.org.
CHRISTINA D. AKEY
Public health educator
Fulton County Public Health