NORWICH – Local anti-tobacco advocates say that the Surgeon General’s Report on teen smoking today highlights a problem they’ve been talking about for some time: tobacco marketing targeting kids in convenience stores, pharmacies and other retail locations where tobacco is sold.
The report, titled Preventing Tobacco Use among Youth and Young Adults finds the nation is falling far short of our national youth smoking goals and calls for immediate and urgent action to protect children from the predatory marketing tactics of the tobacco industry.
“One way to reduce kids’ exposure to tobacco marketing is to prohibit the display of tobacco products in all retail establishments to which minors have access,” said James Mutabiilwa, Tobacco Free Chenango Coordinator at Chenango Health Network. “Abundant research, summarized in this latest report, shows that kids regularly exposed to retail tobacco displays are more likely to smoke.”
The tobacco industry lures kids to use and get addicted to cigarettes through the use of prominent cigarette product displays, sometimes referred to as “power walls” behind the cash register in retail environments. In New York, over 80% of retailers that sell tobacco devote 50% or more of the merchandising space behind the checkout counters to tobacco displays. The amount of space that tobacco products take up in the stores that kids go into is astonishing – an average of 32 square feet in licensed tobacco retailers, and even more - 50 to 60 square feet in NYS pharmacies and other mass merchandisers. When children see such extensive tobacco product displays it distorts their perceptions regarding the availability of cigarettes and increases the likelihood that they will start smoking.