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Advancing Tobacco Free Communities: A Winner in Counter Tobacco Photo Contest

Advancing Tobacco Free Communities-Delaware, Otsego and Schoharie Counties (ATFC-DOS) was a winner in Counter Tobacco’s recent 2018 Point-of-Sale Photo contest. ATFC-DOS had the winning photo in the Tobacco Look-a-Likes category entitled “Trick or Treat? Bubble Gum and Candy Cigarettes”.

COUNTERTOBACCO.ORG is a comprehensive resource for local, state and federal organizations working to counteract tobacco product sales and marketing at the point-of-sale (POS). In an effort to assist with POS advocacy initiatives, photos were solicited showcasing tobacco industry marketing tactics and promotional strategies at the point-of-sale. Photos were submitted from eighteen states and as far away as Pakistan. The entries covered a wide range of problems at the point-of-sale. The photos are available in the image gallery at

Candy cigarettes appeared in the 1880s. Robin Koval, CEO and president of Truth Initiative has indicated, “They are still out there, which is sort of amazing.” She shared further that, “Anything that normalizes the idea of cigarettes in culture is a bad idea. Even to the extent that they are only a little bit of a thing, they shouldn’t be.” Truth Initiative is a national public health organization dedicated to achieving a culture where all youth and young adults reject tobacco.

Tobacco use is an addiction and is the number one preventable cause of death in New York State and the United States. The average age of a new smoker in New York State is 13 years old. Ninety percent of adult smokers say they first tried smoking by age 18. Stores popular among adolescents contain almost three times more tobacco marketing materials compared to other stores in the same community. The U.S. Surgeon has stated “Advertising and promotional activities by tobacco companies have been shown to cause the onset and continuation of smoking among adolescents and young adults.”

Preventing and reducing tobacco use are important public health actions needed to improve the health of New Yorkers. ATFC-DOS educates the community and decision makers, mobilizes community members around the problems that tobacco addiction causes in local communities, and helps decision makers understand the types of  choices that they have to address these problems. Since 2001, Reality Check, the youth component of ATFC-DOS, has been working to educate community leaders and their peers about the manipulative tactics of the tobacco industry to recruit youth to become the next generation of replacement tobacco/nicotine users.