Albany County can resolve to be healthier by standing up to tobacco marketing

To the Editor:

We are just around the corner from the New Year and with that comes the barrage of hopes and resolutions for 2014, many of which center around the virtue of being healthier.

As a resident of Cohoes, the Program Coordinator for Reality Check, a youth-led movement against big tobacco, and a life-long advocate against deceptive tobacco marketing, my hope is that Albany County can resolve to be healthier by standing up to tobacco marketing in stores, a primary recruiter of youth smokers.

Seventy percent of teens shop at a convenience store at least once a week, where the tobacco industry spends the majority of its marketing dollars (93 percent, to be exact). When youth walk into their local gas station, grocery store, pharmacy, or convenience store, they are bombarded by tobacco marketing at every turn, whether it is the huge wall of colorful tobacco products right behind the cash wrap or the advertisements placed at their eye level.

This is not a coincidence, as the tobacco industry knows that nearly 90 percent of smokers started before the age of 18.

This marketing works. The more tobacco marketing youth see, the more likely they are to start smoking.

As a community, we need to resolve to take a stand to protect the youth in our community and keep corporate tobacco out of our neighborhoods. I hope during 2014, Albany County steps up to the plate.

Erica Olmstead

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