On World No Tobacco Day, May 31, when it comes to instore tobacco advertising, western New York youth wanted to send a clear message to cigarette makers: we’ve seen enough.

On World No Tobacco Day, May 31, when it comes to instore tobacco advertising, western New York youth wanted to send a clear message to cigarette makers: we’ve seen enough.


Recruiting “replacement smokers,” also known as kids, is a building block for big tobacco’s marketing strategy.  Recent surveys have shown kids are consistently targeted  by flashy cigarette advertising in local stores.  On May 31, local teens joined together to protest this deadly influence.


“Teens are tired of turning a blind eye to deadly in-store advertising,” said Kim McMahon of the American Cancer Society.  “This is about standing up to these giant, cancer-causing corporations and letting them know you won’t allow them to push you into a lifelong tobacco addiction.”


In demonstrations planned for World No Tobacco Day, youth gathered blindfolded throughout New York to send a message that dangerous tobacco marketing should be removed from stores where kids shop.  Unless community leaders and storeowners enforce change, wearing a blindfold will be the only way for kids to avoid this deadly influence.


A virtual demonstration was also held online as teens from across the state posted photos on a special Facebook page set up for the effort at facebook.com/event.php?eid=114092028676472. An online petition urging people to take a stand against in-store advertising has also been posted at TobaccoFreeNYS.org.


Very few adult smokers begin after high school, with 90 percent of adult smokers starting at or before age 18. In-store promotions are a major cause of youth smoking. A National Cancer Institute study concluded that exposure to cigarette advertising causes nonsmoking adolescents to initiate smoking and to move toward becoming regular smokers.  Another study found young people are more likely to be influenced by cigarette advertising than by peer or parental smoking.  


Result of the recent Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act and the Master Settlement Agreement, retail stores are one of the last places where tobacco companies can expose kids to their advertising.  Consequently, tobacco companies spend billions of dollars each year marketing their deadly products at the point of sale.


 This is done by controlling dominant display space in retail stores and through in-store advertising.  Both are typically found around the cash register, sometimes referred to within the industry as the “goal post” because it is the one place in the store where everyone must go.  Tobacco companies invest a lot at these locations in creating so-called “power walls,” large, visually appealing displays of products intended to attract the interest of customers.


In addition to World No Tobacco Day efforts, the American Cancer Society annually celebrates the Great American Smokeout® each November to raise awareness about the issue of the strong tobacco company presence in our stores and to encourage community members to take action to limit youth exposure to this dangerous and deadly influence.