Tobacco ads target youth to start smoking

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010 | Janelle Burrell | Categories:
NEW YORK STATE -- If you're a smoker, chances are you had your first puff before you turned 18. That was the case for high school freshman Darian Streno. "I've been smoking since I was 12," Streno said. Streno is part of the 90 percent of smokers who start the habit before they're legally able to buy cigarettes and research shows youth targeted advertising is why. "It makes me want it more because every time I have $10, it goes towards cigs," said Streno. The tobacco industry spends more than $1 million a day to market its products in New York State, most of it at convenience stores where teens are guaranteed to shop. "Tobacco companies are very savvy marketers," said Diana Cahill, regional vice president of the American Cancer Society. "They understand that the best place for them to get long term income is to market to our youth." The American Cancer Society recently teamed up with local anti-smoking organizations, conducting a random survey of licensed tobacco retailers. "Eighty-seven percent of tobacco retailers had interior tobacco advertising," said Sharon Fischer, coordinator of the Tobacco Free Broome Coalition. They also found 93 percent had tobacco displays behind the cash register, often at children's eye level, a prime location for advertisers to start selling their message early. "We would like to see the location and the overall placement of these ads taken away. So that they are not there to entice the youth to start smoking," Cahill said. For those already stuck to the habit, it may be too late. But they hope their efforts can help a curb a new generation from even being tempted to take their first puff.
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