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Queens Chronicle

Out of sight — out of mind

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Posted: Thursday, September 19, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 3:56 pm, Thu Sep 19, 2013.

Dear Editor:

Each year, smoking kills more than AIDS, alcohol, drug abuse, car crashes, murders, suicides and fires combined. Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death in our country and in New York City. In Queens, 213,000 residents smoke, and 6,000 public high school students smoke. One-third of them will die prematurely. The next generation of smokers will be children and adolescents who are influenced by tobacco marketing where tobacco products are sold.

According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, in 2011, cigarette companies spent $8.37 billion on advertising and promotional expenses in the United States alone, up from $8.05 billion in 2010. It’s no surprise that about 80 percent of smokers began to try tobacco products before the age of 21. Reducing smoking rates begins with limiting children’s and teenagers’ exposure to tobacco marketing and displays in stores. The more kids see tobacco marketing and product displays, the more likely they are to smoke.

Walls of tobacco products behind cash registers in convenience stores prompt impulse buys and normalize smoking, especially among youth. Research shows that kids who shop at stores with tobacco marketing two or more times a week are 64 percent more likely to start smoking than their peers who don’t.

One of the reasons why we stopped Big Tobacco from advertising on television is because their commercials encouraged our youth to pick up a cigarette and make smoking part of their everyday life. Why should our youth now be bombarded by tobacco marketing and product displays while at the counter of their local store every time they shop for a snack? By keeping tobacco products out of sight, we will keep them out of mind. sWe support all policies that can help prevent another generation from the ill health and shorter life expectancy that comes with smoking.

Even one new smoker is one too many — especially when it’s a young person.

Nancy Copperman, MS, RD, CDN
Director of Public Health Initiatives
Office of Community and Public Health,
North Shore Long Island Jewish Health System
Assistant Professor of Population Health
Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine
New Hyde Park

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