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Continue to Fight Tobacco Addiction

Dear Editor,

Did you know that tobacco use is another addiction that permeates our communities? 28,200 adults die each year statewide from smoking-related diseases. There may be an opioid overdose crisis in this country, but cigarettes still kill 15 times more people. In fact, cigarettes kill more people in the United States than alcohol, car crashes, AIDS, illegal drugs, murders and suicides combined. In Schoharie County, the current smoking rate is 19.3 percent, in Delaware County it is 22.9 percent and in Otsego County it is 26.3 percent as compared to the NYS rate of 14.2 percent. Smoking, chewing and vaping negatively affect many local residents.

According to the U.S. Surgeon General tobacco marketing and/or exposure to tobacco use causes youth tobacco initiation. Studies show that tobacco retail marketing also undermines quit attempts by current users.

As a parent and tobacco control professional, it is disturbing to visit local convenience stores with my children to discover tobacco products displayed in close proximity to kid-appealing products like candy, gum, soda and toys. Have you noticed that most tobacco products and tobacco advertising are placed at kids’ eye level? Tobacco products are visible in places where youth shop at least 75 percent of the time. Big tobacco is strategically luring kids and recruiting potential tobacco users in retail settings. For every 194 children in New York State there is one store that sells tobacco and many of those stores are located near schools.

A recent NYS Department of Health study highlighted that about one in five retail outlets placed tobacco products and advertising at a child’s eye level (23 percent) or near items appealing to youth such as gum, candy, or toys (21 percent). About half of all stores had exterior tobacco product ads and 86 percent had interior ads. Tobacco price promotions were present in 66 percent of retail outlets where allowed by law. 55 percent of retailers dedicated more than half the space behind the register to tobacco marketing. The permanent “book-case style” displays of tobacco products kids see when visiting stores in local communities are overwhelming. Our children have seen enough tobacco!

New York State’s tobacco control and cessation efforts have reduced smoking rates to the lowest levels on record, but the war on tobacco has not been won. Advancing Tobacco Free Communities-Delaware, Otsego and Schoharie Counties provides technical assistance and other resources to municipalities, businesses and organizations looking to reduce the negative impact of tobacco product marketing and price promotions on youth and adults at the point-of-sale. Community members and decision-makers must continue to promote health within our communities. Tobacco-free policies save lives and money.

Deyanira Cisneros
Cobleskill, NY