Tobacco companies offer deadly discounts

Youth smoking is still a problem in New York and remains the leading cause of preventable death. We need to protect our youth and put an end to the deadly discounts that are addicting our kids to tobacco. The evidence is undeniable – people smoke more when cigarettes cost less. Studies show a 10 percent increase in the price of cigarettes causes a 3 percent to 5 percent decrease in purchases among adults, and youth are even more price sensitive.

Tobacco companies have crafted innovative and intricate price-related strategies to dissuade quitting and to entice new customers to purchase their products. With coupons, “buy one, get one free” offers, undisclosed payments to retailers, and other methods, tobacco companies seek to offset high prices caused by an increase in tobacco taxes and keep their products attractive to price sensitive customers, like youths.

Price-related strategies are a priority for tobacco companies. In 2011 alone, they spent about $7 billion on price-discounting strategies to reduce the price of cigarettes for consumers. This was 83.6 percent of the industry’s overall advertising and promotional expenditures for cigarettes.

Some localities are fighting back – in 2012, Providence, R.I., prohibited the redemption of coupons and multipack discounts. And New York City has now introduced legislation to address coupons and price discounts in an effort to protect youth.

What are you willing to do to protect our youth from these deadly discounts? Sharing this information with other community members, speaking to elected officials and attending your local municipality meetings is the step in the right direction.

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SHAUNA SITTS, program coordinator,

Reality Check of Hamilton, Fulton and Montgomery Counties