Here’s How Tobacco Promotions Reach Your Kids

Learn how tobacco companies spend billions (!!!) to put their products in front of your kids and then visit SeenEnoughTobacco.org to pledge your support for putting these promotions out of sight and out of mind.

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Real talk: You’re not the only one teaching your kids about tobacco.

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As a parent, you know the stakes are HIGH: Smoking is responsible for over 400,000 deaths each year, killing more Americans than AIDS, alcohol, car accidents, murders, suicides, drugs, and fires COMBINED. And the average age of a new smoker is 13. So, it’s really important to stop kids from smoking BEFORE they start! But that can be a challenge when the tobacco industry is spending billions of dollars a year to promote their products.

Your parenting is up against MAJOR tobacco industry $$$.

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According to a 2016 report by the Federal Trade Commission, the five largest cigarette manufacturers spent a total of $8.489 billion to advertise and promote their products in 2014. That averages out to be more than $23 million dollars a day to capture potential smokers’ (aka your kids’) attention.

And, sorry, but no: Your kids probably aren’t ignoring all those promotions.

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Adolescents who are exposed to cigarette advertising often find the ads appealing, according to a 2012 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Not only can tobacco promotions increase adolescents' desire to smoke, young people who do smoke express a clear preference for the three most heavily advertised brands. Not great!

The GOOD news is knowledge really is power! The more you know about how tobacco companies try to reach your kids, the more you can do to put a stop to this.

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While tobacco companies insist all of their promotions are designed to target of-age consumers, studies have found that some common promotions seem to appeal particularly strongly to kids, specifically: price discounts and point-of-sale promotions.

Cheap tobacco is kid-friendly tobacco.

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Reducing the cost of cigarettes and other tobacco products is how tobacco companies spend most of the billions of dollars they invest in promotions and advertising. In 2014, price discounts accounted for 65.5% of total tobacco advertising and promotional expenditures. That’s a lot of money! And studies have shown that the cheaper tobacco is, the more likely kids are to use it. In fact, every 10% increase in the price of cigarettes reduces youth consumption by 7%. And if you think your kid has never seen a tobacco coupon, you might want to think again: A 2012 study found that 1 in 10 kids had been exposed to tobacco coupons in the past month.

Looks like the tobacco industry loves your kids' favorite candy spots more than they do.

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With tobacco ads prohibited on television, radio, and billboards, you’re probably wondering where kids even see tobacco or discount promotions. Tobacco ads aren’t even in most magazines anymore! So where are kids exposed to this stuff? The answer: convenience stores. Nearly half of adolescents visit a convenience store at least once a week — frequently to buy candy, sodas, and other after-school snacks — and it’s there, at the point of sale, that they’re most likely to see tobacco promotions. The sheer volume of tobacco brand imagery and product placement at convenience stores and other points of sale helps normalize tobacco use for kids. And the more promotions they see, the more likely they are to start using tobacco — a 2010 study found that teens who visited stores with point-of-sale promotions at least twice per week were more than twice as likely to initiate tobacco use than their counterparts who visited less frequently.

What should you do exactly? Speak up!

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The only way to change the status quo is to get involved. Make your voice heard. Talk to your kids and ask what they see. Tell your friends in church, other little-league parents, and community leaders that flavored products, price discounts, and point-of-sale promotions have no place in your community.

Every day, tobacco companies spend millions of dollars to put their products in front of your kids in hopes they’ll get hooked. Take action by visiting SeenEnoughTobacco.org and pledging your support for getting tobacco promotions out of sight in more than 21,000 retailers in New York State.