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New Yorkers Thankful for Strides Made to Prevent Youth from Smoking

OSWEGO, NY – As the nation celebrates Thanksgiving, New Yorkers can be thankful that fewer high school students are smoking.  While the trend is in the right direction, the rate of decrease is slowing.

According to the Surgeon General, in the United States, 3.6 million youth currently smoke cigarettes. In New York, the current rate of cigarette smoking by high school students is 12.6 percent, less than the 17.2 percent national rate.

“Youth smoking rates have fallen faster here than in the U.S. as a whole, for which New Yorkers should be thankful.  But there’s still a lot of work to be done,” said Blair Horner, Vice President for Advocacy, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network of NY & NJ. “By following the funding recommendations of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, New York State can ensure that its Tobacco Control Program could more successfully help smokers to quit and keep kids from starting.”

The 2012 report, Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults: A Report of the Surgeon General, concluded that tobacco industry marketing causes youth tobacco use.

The tobacco industry spends one million dollars a day to market tobacco products in New York State, according to The Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids. The marketing influences youths’ decisions about smoking. Kids are twice as likely as adults to recall tobacco advertising.  Much of this advertising and marketing is done at the checkout counters in convenience stores and pharmacies, a highly visible location.  The Surgeon General’s report also states that when communities have tobacco retailers located close to schools, kids are more likely to smoke.

“Our kids are inundated with tobacco marketing around cash registers and checkout lines,” said Abby Jenkins, Program Coordinator of the Tobacco Free Network of Oswego County.  “We need to protect our children from this deadly product and reduce their exposure to tobacco marketing.”

Smoking is still a serious threat to our youth.  According to the Surgeon General, nearly all adults who smoke started before the age of 18. Smoking during the teen years causes early damage to the lungs which in most cases cannot be reversed completely.  It also leads to health problems including heart disease, asthma and numerous cancers as well as breathlessness and the inability to participate in physical activities.

For more information about the harmful effects of tobacco marketing on youth, visit www.tobaccofreenys.org