To the editor:
May 31 is World No Tobacco Day, dedicated to the cause of protecting present and future generations from the harmful effects of tobacco as well as from the social, environmental and economic hardships that accompany tobacco use and exposure to tobacco smoke. The ultimate goal of the 2014 campaign is for governments to increase taxes on tobacco to levels that reduce consumption. This strategy has worked in the past to decrease and prevent tobacco use.
The Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids states that each year, 12,900 kids under 18 become new daily smokers in New York. Interventions such as increasing the price of cigarettes, prevents young people from initiating smoking, increases cessation and reduces the number of cigarettes consumed by people who continue to smoke. Despite this major intervention, New York state youth purchase or smoke 31.8 million packs of cigarettes each year, as reported by the New York State Department of Health Bureau of Tobacco Control.
Target marketing is the key strategy used by the tobacco industry to lure youth into the addictive hold of tobacco. They use creative strategies, including coupons and multi-pack discounts, to undermine the impact of tobacco taxes. According to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, tobacco companies spent more than $7 billion on price-discounting strategies for cigarettes and more than $171 million on coupons alone.
It has been proven that raising the price of tobacco products is an effective way to reduce youth smoking. Research shows that taxes raised high enough to offset coupons and discounts are effective in preventing young people from starting to smoke. Every child deserves the opportunity to grow up healthy and needs our help. To learn more about World No Tobacco Day and how you can take action, visit www.tobaccofreeNYS.org or www.who.int/campaigns/no-tobacco-day/2014/event/en/.
Public health educator
Adirondack Tobacco Free Network