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Letter to the Editor: The Facts About Big Tobacco

Written By Michael on 7/12/15 | 7/12/15

Dear Editor,

Recently Susan Cameron, CEO of Reynolds American Inc. was quoted as saying “tobacco industry is looking like the old days” with profits rising and smoker litigation on the decline. “The global tobacco players over time will be more interested in the US” (Bloomberg Business June 12, 2015 3:21 PM).

As a Reality Check Lead Coordinator – Advancing Tobacco Free Communities and a parent I find this report not only frustrating but offensive. How can a company who has been so scrutinized, heavily fined and now regulated by the FDA be so cavalier about expanding business here in the US knowing they are targeting our youth as the next generation of smokers?

Big Tobacco is targeting our youth and now planning to expanding, does this mean FDA will impose stronger regulations, I certainly hope so. According to the National Cancer Institute the marketing of tobacco provide cues to influence smoking and initiate the youth to try that first cigarette. Youth who visit convenient stores more than twice a week are 64% more likely to start smoking. Here is a startling statistic: Each year in New York State 22,500 youth become new daily smokers and 31.6 million packs of cigarettes are being bought or smoked by New York State Youth. (campaign for tobacco free kids) In New York State alone the tobacco industry spend 1 million yes I said 1 million dollars per day marketing its product. 90% of their marketing budget is spent on advertising which is targeting our youth. You ask how it is targeting our youth.

Through the use of advertising and promotional activities, packaging, strategic product placement and product design, the tobacco industry is encouraging our youth to smoke. Youth and young adults see smoking in their social circles, movies they watch, video games they play, websites they visit, and many communities where they live. Smoking is often portrayed as a social norm, and young people exposed to these images are more likely to smoke.

Here are the facts: Cigarettes contain more than 7000 different chemicals such as acetone, cyanide, carbon monoxide formaldehyde and the list goes on. 70 plus carcinogens are known to cause cancer and tobacco use related illnesses are the number one cause of death. Locally Schoharie County has one of the highest rates of deaths due to lung cancer in the state of New York. Do we want to expose our youth to Big Tobacco expansion and advertising absolutely not? If you’re an adult smoker you already know what brand you smoke and where to purchase them so why is it necessary to expose our youth to any advertising at all, so that the Big Tobacco can promote there cancer causing product to the next generation of smokers. I say absolutely not, no advertising is necessary if it exposes our youth to their product.

As parents, educators, communities, and politicians do we want Big Tobacco to expand their businesses, profit margins and to expand their advertising objectives that are targeted toward our youth, all this at the expense of our youth and their long term health? I say NO I have seen enough from the Big Tobacco.

Regina Haig – Lead Coordinator/Parent
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