The Great American Smokeout
Today (Nov. 20) marks the American Cancer Society’s 39th Annual Great American Smokeout, a day when all tobacco users can collectively refrain from tobacco for just one day. No pressure to quit for good, no expectations, just one day off for a tobacco “holiday.”
Of course, it is said that the best way to quit tobacco is to never start, but for many that was easier said than done. For generations tobacco use, in particular smoking cigarettes, has been a societal norm, a practice that has been driven in no small part by tobacco industry marketing. Philip Morris, perhaps the most successful with their campaigns, rode the Marlboro Man to the bestselling brand of all time, and encouraged countless women and teenage girls to be smokers with their Virginia Slims brand. Similarly, Joe Camel conned a later generation of teens into a life of smoking.
It may seem that celebrity spokes-characters are passing out of the spotlight, and Big Tobacco’s grab for young smokers is in the past, but that is far from the truth. Nationally, the industry still spends over $8 billion a year to market cigarettes, and the greatest prize for those efforts is still the teenage “replacement smoker.”
Here are some things to be aware of with your children and teens:
- A majority of teens visit convenience stores at least weekly, and their exposure to the big displays of tobacco products behind the cash register, the so called “power wall,” is recognized by the U.S. Surgeon General as a primary cause of youth smoking.
- Shopping at pharmacies and stores that do not sell tobacco provides a positive influence for children and teens. Selling a product that kills even when used in moderation, in a store that promotes health and wellness can create confusion and misunderstanding about the true dangers of tobacco use.
- Smoke-free outdoor areas and smoke-free homes reduce the impact of modeling tobacco use as a social norm, and makes it less of an acceptable behavior to children. It also reduces exposure to secondhand smoke, a Class A carcinogen.
- Ninety percent of adult smokers started before age 18. Helping teens beat the tobacco trap now is the only way to finally welcome in a tobacco-free generation.
For more information, visit www.tompkinscountyny.gov/wellness/tobaccofree.
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