Store ads attract children to tobacco

As people were encouraged to quit smoking during the 2010 Great American Smoke out on November 18, attention was also paid to tobacco ads targeting kids.

A survey, which was released by Queens Smoke-Free Partnership, Asian Americans for Equality and the American Cancer Society (ACS) Asian Initiative, was conducted at 34 retailers located within 1,000 feet of schools that were licensed to sell tobacco in Queens. Retailers were selected at random and were visited by representatives of one of the three organizations in October and early November.

The survey found that tobacco product displays were behind cash registers in 97 percent of the stores, while there were exterior ads at 56 percent of them. Displays of cigarette packs, cartons and other tobacco products were found in the checkout lanes of 74 percent of the stores.

“It’s disgraceful. We’ve been able to limit tobacco company advertising in mass media, but they’ve adapted and are taking full advantage of one of their final venues to lure kids into smoking,” said ACS Vice President of Asian Initiatives, Ming-der Chang. “By plastering stores with highly-lit displays and bright ads placed at kid level, they continue to focus on our kids as their next generation of customers.”

According to ACS, “research shows that exposure to tobacco marketing in stores is a primary cause of youth smoking.” Of regular smokers, about 90 percent start before they are 18 years old.

“The tobacco industry spends billions of dollars to get tobacco marketing in front of children in stores,” said Queens Smoke-Free Partnership Director Dan Carrigan. “If we reduce youth exposure to in-store tobacco marketing, we can help the next generation avoid a lifetime of addiction to tobacco.”


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