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Letter: Stop tobacco companies from targeting children

Stop tobacco companies from targeting children

“What I Did On My Summer Vacation” discussions have pretty much wrapped up for the year. But what I did this summer is something we all have to keep doing. Take action and get tobacco out of sight in our stores.

As a part of the Reality Check program at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, I visited many stores near my school, Mount Mercy Academy, this summer to perform “tobacco audits.” What I discovered is startling.

Tobacco products look so much like candy it’s easy to mistake them for sweets. They come in bright shiny packages that resemble candy-like flavors: cherry, strawberry, bubble gum.

Often, these products are placed near gum and candy, near the checkout counter so they can’t be missed. And in many stores, the products are placed within a child’s reach and price range.

None of this is by chance. Each day in New York State, the tobacco industry spends over a half million dollars to market its products – and 90 percent of it is devoted to advertising in stores near schools. The more kids see it, the more likely they are to start smoking. That explains why the average age of a new smoker in New York State is 13.

It’s time to get tough on tobacco. Tell your elected officials our kids have seen enough. Or they’ll get hooked even younger.

Nora Galley

West Seneca

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