This post was sponsored by Tobacco Free New York State as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.
As a kid, growing up in the 80’s (yes, I’m that old but you probably already know that by now!), I was surrounded by tobacco ads – on television, in magazines, on billboards, in grocery stores and there were even candy cigarettes! My grandparents owned a small convenience store in western New York and I vividly remember the tobacco imagery all around their own store – things like clocks, calendars, posters and store hours signs provided free of charge by tobacco distributors. While my grandparents were adamant about not selling tobacco to minors, a large portion of their business came from the sale of cigarettes.
Luckily, even with all the exposure to tobacco imagery, I escaped unscathed mostly thanks to my parents for instilling in me the dangers of tobacco use, but not without some of my own experimentation. Sadly, smoking among teenagers hasn’t declined since the 1980s. In New York State, the average age of a new smoker is 13 years old. E-cigarettes are compunding the problem. In the past four years, e-cigarette use among high school students increased by 160 percent.
Cigarette companies invest billions of dollars into marketing products in stores near schools and in low income neighborhoods. Even in my residential Manhattan neighborhood populated with schools, the delis prominently display tobacco ads. These are the same delis into which children run to buy after-school snacks. True story: I never noticed these ads until I actually looked for them, but our children do! In fact, young people are more than twice as likely as adults to be influenced by tobacco advertising. Studies show that the more cigarette ads teens see, the more likely they are to try smoking.
As a first-time parent-to-be, although I plan to educate my own child, I still want him or her – and all children for that matter – to be protected from exposure to tobacco products because the more accessible it is, the more attractive it becomes.
Tobacco Free New York State is combatting tobacco marketing to children. The first step in joining forces is to sign the pledge to support this effort. You can also use the site as a resource to find community partners by county if you wish to get involved on a local level.