Adults Concerned About Tobacco Ads Influence On Youth

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Sweet Home High School ‘Kick Butts Day’ Tobacco-Free Celebration

Buffalo, NY - Do you see what your child sees? Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) scientists have analyzed the impact of tobacco advertising in stores.  Researchers found that adults and young people believe that tobacco promotions influence youth to smoke. The findings were presented during a ‘Kick Butts Day’ tobacco-free celebration at Sweet Home High School in Amherst, NY.

“Kick Butts Day is a great time to raise awareness about the impact of tobacco promotions on our youth. Reducing the number of tobacco retailers or covering up the ubiquitous display of tobacco will help reduce the rate of youth smoking,” said Anthony Billoni, Director of the Erie-Niagara Tobacco-Free Coalition.

Researchers evaluated support for tobacco control policies in a telephone survey of Erie and Niagara county residents. Findings include:

  • 67% of adults and 80% of youth see tobacco advertising inside and outside of stores.
  • 79% of adults think tobacco product displays increases the chance that a child will start smoking.
  • 60% favor rules that would require tobacco products in stores to be hidden from display. 

“These findings indicate that Western New York adults are aware of negative impact of tobacco promotions. Adults want tobacco companies to stop targeting young people with tobacco promotions and they want elected leaders to do more to protect youth from tobacco promotion practices,” said Andrew Hyland, PhD, Department of Health Behavior, RPCI.

Results of an informal survey of adults in Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany were similar. The Tri County Tobacco Free Programs found that 42% of people asked believe tobacco promotions influences children “a lot.”

Laurie Adams, Program Director for the Tri County Tobacco Free Programs added, “These findings indicate that adults in the Tri County area are concerned about the impact of tobacco promotions and underestimate how much of it kids are exposed to every time they walk into a convenience store. As parents and community members, we must raise the level of awareness and work together to protect our children.”

Kick Butts Day was a student celebration at Sweet Home High School where they had the opportunity to demonstrate youth advocacy, leadership and activism in the fight against tobacco use.  Health and tobacco prevention displays and demonstrations offered information and educational materials. Students were encouraged to join the Rise Above Tobacco Prevention Program. Students who join the program take a pledge to be tobacco-free for the school year and are eligible for Boulevard Mall gift certificates in a random monthly drawing.

"Sweet Home Central School District knows from firsthand experience the effectiveness of tobacco control initiatives in preventing kids from smoking and encouraging those who do use tobacco to quit. These programs are a great gift for students as they promote a tobacco-free life," said Mrs. Beverly Ann Shipe, District Nurse Practitioner and Health Teacher at Sweet Home High School.

Stores are one of the last venues where tobacco promotions reach youth.  Ads on TV, radio and billboards are banned, as well as cartoon characters, sponsorships and giveaways. Magazine advertising is restricted to predominantly adult-oriented publications. However, in-store promotions and product displays remain unrestricted.  

Gretchen Leffler, Regional Vice President of the Western New York Division of the American Cancer Society added, “We need to take a stand to get tobacco out of our communities and make the health of our youth the priority.”

The Erie-Niagara Tobacco-Free Coalition is funded by the New York State Tobacco Control Program.  The goal is to educate community leaders and the public about the dangers and social costs of tobacco use, engage local stakeholders to adopt policies that restrict the tobacco industry’s presence in our communities, seek to de-normalize tobacco use and eliminate secondhand smoke. For more information, visit www. tobaccofreewny.com or www.tobaccofreenys.org/

Media Contact: 

Annie Deck-Miller, Senior Media Relations Manager
716-845-8593; annie.deck-miller@roswellpark.org