Anti-tobacco messages going up in area

JOHNSTOWN – In an effort to combat the power of tobacco marketing the group says is aimed at children Advancing Tobacco-Free Communities of Hamilton, Fulton & Montgomery Counties is putting its anti-tobacco message front and center at local schools and parks.

Program Coordinator Sarah Kraemer said her group has created graphics that say “90 percent” using something called “fence cups” at the PTECH school at Jansen Avenue, at the Mayfield Central School District High School, at Parkhurst Field in Gloversville and at the Oppenheim-Ephratah-St. Johnsville elementary school.

“The idea is that people will see this graphic at different places around the county and it will intrigue them and pique their interest. It explains that 90 percent of all adult smokers start smoking before the age of 18,” Kraemer said.

Advancing Tobacco-Free Communities of Hamilton, Fulton & Montgomery Counties put up the 90 percent graphics as part of World No Tobacco Day, which was May 31.

Kraemer said she is hoping the graphics encourage people to visit or use the hashtag #seenenoughtobacco.

She said the website has information that explains how young people are often lured into smoking due to the brightly-colored marketing materials used by tobacco companies.

Advancing Tobacco-Free Communities of Hamilton, Fulton & Montgomery Counties provided statistics supporting the group’s argument of the importance of tobacco marketing toward young people: the U.S. surgeon estimates the average age of a new smoker in New York state is 13; according to the New York state Health Bureau of Tobacco Control, in 2014, 92 percent of New York state high school students reported being aware of pro-tobacco marketing; the U.S tobacco industry spent an estimated $9.5 billion on advertising and promotion of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco in 2013, according to the Federal Trade Commission; and that includes $220 million annually in New York state, about $602,000, according to the New York state Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids.

Kraemer said at there are links to petitions that people can sign asking their local governments to prohibit pro-tobacco marketing in their communities.

“We have a bunch of different ways that tobacco marketing can be reduced. Stores can cover-up tobacco marketing, as has been done in Canada. You don’t see any tobacco advertisements when you go into convenience stores in Canada,” she said. “Another thing you can do is reduce the use of coupons – the buy-one-get-one free coupons – each municipality can adopt local laws restricting those. We take the petitions to the local governments in the hope that they will take action. We’ve only just started the point-of-sale initiatives here in our community. Right now, we haven’t had a lot of success, but some surrounding communities have and we’re hoping to piggy-back onto that. Right now, New York City restricts the coupons. They also have a tobacco-21 law in place.”

Kraemer said Albany County is considering adopting a law to restrict tobacco sales to anyone under 21. She said her group recently made a presentation to the Montgomery County Legislature and is hoping someone there will sponsor a bill restricting tobacco sales to people 21 and older.

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