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Tobacco-Free Onondaga County aims to make residents healthier

Tobacco marketers often package their products to look like candy, as shown here, drawing in kids as “replacement smokers” for adults who have either quit or died of tobacco-related disease.

Tobacco marketers often package their products to look like candy, as shown here, drawing in kids as “replacement smokers” for adults who have either quit or died of tobacco-related disease.

— “Other states look to us,” she said. “The Clean Indoor Air Act was one of the greatest things ever done in New York state. It made a significant change.”

Maybe that’s why the tobacco industry spends $1 million a day in marketing in New York alone, to drive up rates in the state. But it’s not working, according to the statistics.

“Fewer adults are smoking. The rates have gone down for adults — right now we’re at 18 percent in New York state, down from 21 percent in 2009,” Shostack said. “So these initiatives are having an influence because many people have quit, though some have died from diseases caused by tobacco.”

Unfortunately, the tobacco industry is looking to kids and teens to bulk up sales. The surgeon general reported that tobacco companies look to adolescents as “replacement smokers” because they’re more impressionable and susceptible to advertising campaigns.

“Nearly all tobacco use begins during youth and young adulthood,” Surgeon General Regina M. Benjamin, MD, MBA, wrote in her 2012 report. “Each day across the United States, more than 3,800 youth under age 18 smoke their first cigarette. Although much progress has been made to reduce the prevalence of smoking since the first Surgeon General’s report in 1964, today nearly one in four high school seniors and one in three young adults under age 26 smoke.”

Benjamin blamed several factors for the statistic, including youth susceptibility to tobacco, social pressures and norms and, most perniciously, the influence of the tobacco industry.

“Tobacco companies use multiple methods and spend lots of money to convince young people that using tobacco is OK—even attractive,” Benjamin wrote. “Their business depends on getting these young consumers to try—and to keep using—their products. Young people are responsive to marketing, making them vulnerable to messages that encourage tobacco use.”

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