On Oct. 9, thousands of school children in the U.S. and 40 other countries will “walk together” to promote safer streets, healthier habits and cleaner air in celebration of Walk to School Day. Unfortunately, as with every day, kids will be exposed to tobacco marketing as they pass the many retailers prominently marketing tobacco in their neighborhood.
Do you know how many tobacco retailers your kids may pass on their daily walk to school? The fact is that more than 50 percent of tobacco retailers are located within 1,000 feet of an elementary or secondary school in New York State. This means most kids can’t avoid passing tobacco marketing to and from school every day. Tobacco marketing refers to the advertisements for tobacco products, reduced-pricing for cigarettes and deceiving ads that continue to entice our kids to consider tobacco use.
While we’ve made great strides to reduce youth smoking, 11.9 percent of high school kids in New York State still smoke, and tobacco marketing is one of the reasons kids make the decision to try tobacco. Exposure to both ads and displays has been shown to make youth more likely to start smoking.
On Oct. 9, take the time to educate your local elected officials that safe routes to school involve more than safe streets. There is a need for our community to protect our children from the negative impact of tobacco marketing.
To find out more or to partner with the Tobacco Action Coalition of the Finger Lakes to help reduce youth exposure to tobacco products, call me at (585) 666-1401 or email: hdunlap@LungNE.org.
Helen Dunlap
Tobacco Action Coalition of the Finger Lakes