According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), nearly 4,000 youth under age 18 try their first cigarette each day in the
Tobacco companies market heavily to youth with the goal of finding and securing “replacement smokers.” The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids notes that tobacco industry internal documents identify children as young as 11 years old as a “key market.” A newly published FDA report indicates that 80% of black and 50% of Hispanic teens smoke menthol cigarettes such as
Although cigarette companies claim that they have discontinued intentional marketing to youth through targeted ads and promotional items, they have found another powerful venue for the promotion and sale of their products—the local neighborhood store. The corner store is a favored stop off point for youth on their way to and from school. A recent
On June 22, 2010, the FDA issued a new ruling designed to limit the effect of tobacco advertising on youth.
Among other things, the rule:
- Prohibits the sale of cigarettes or smokeless tobacco to people younger than 18,
- Prohibits the sale of cigarette packages with less than 20 cigarettes,
- Prohibits distribution of free samples of cigarettes or smokeless tobacco, and
- Prohibits gifts or other items in exchange for buying cigarettes or smokeless tobacco products.
To ensure compliance, the FDA has promised to conduct unannounced inspections of local retail establishments and to impose “enforcement action,” which could include warning letters, civil money penalties, and orders prohibiting the future sale of tobacco products.
While these provisions are important, they do not address the key issue of tobacco signage in local neighborhood stores. In the
What can communities do? Bronx Health REACH (BHR) has spent the last few months as a community contractor with the Bronx Smoke-Free partnership under a grant funded by the New York City Department of Health. We have met with local members of the Assembly, Senate and City Council to encourage their continued advocacy and support of smoking prevention and cessation efforts in the
Bronx Health REACH is currently working with eight schools under the New York State Department of Health-funded HEA+
Finally, Bronx Health REACH invites all Bronx youth to join the Bronx Smoke-Free Partnership on World No Tobacco Day, Tuesday, May 31, 2011, at Union Square Park in Manhattan at 3 pm for a rally and press conference. There, they can tell Big Tobacco that they've had enough of the aggressive marketing designed to get them hooked on cigarettes.