ALBANY, NY – On Tuesday (Jan. 11), New York State tobacco control advocates descended on Albany to educate New York leaders about the important role tobacco use prevention and cessation has in preventing youth initiation and reducing healthcare costs.
New York State spends $8.17 billion annually in medical costs to treat tobacco caused diseases and 25,400 New Yorkers die each year due to tobacco use.
The focal point of this year’s legislative day was the mock “convenience store” located in the Legislative Well of the Legislative Office Building.
Legislators were invited to visit the store to have a cup of coffee and take a look at the tobacco marketing and displays children are bombarded with when they shop in convenience stores.
Exposure to tobacco marketing in stores has been identified as one of the primary causes of youth smoking.
“It’s important to address the advertising that entices kids to begin smoking,” said Abby Jenkins, program coordinator for the Tobacco Free Network of Oswego County. “Studies by the National Cancer Institute have shown that these tobacco advertisements cause youth to initiate tobacco use and to move toward becoming a regular smoker. The tobacco companies know to spend billions of dollars in marketing avenues proven to gain replacement smokers for their product.”
The mock convenience store display was the centerpiece of numerous educational exhibits.
There was also information regarding smoke free housing, tobacco free outdoor recreational areas, and tobacco free periodicals.
These displays informed the public and legislators of the different tobacco control components advocates work with such as cessation centers, the youth program Reality Check, the college initiative Colleges for Change, Healthy Schools New York and the numerous adult tobacco control community partnerships across the state.
In addition to the educational and visual displays in the Legislative Well, many partners met with their State legislators to discuss the impact tobacco has on their individual districts.
Oswego County was well represented with meetings held with newly elected officials, Senator Patricia Ritchie and Assemblyman Kenneth Blankenbush.
Seasoned Assemblyman Bill Oaks also made time to discuss the impact tobacco has on local constituents.
The advocates are funded by the New York State Department of Health Tobacco Control Program.
The program implements evidence-based strategies to prevent and reduce tobacco use.
Over time, the program has effectively executed a strong clean indoor air law, maintained support for high tobacco taxes, and worked to increase access to effective cessation services.