Big Tobacco marketing is affecting our communities now more than ever. There are too many stores with too much tobacco marketing. Almost 90% of regular smokers start smoking before the age of eighteen; tobacco companies know this and target their marketing to the youth for this reason.
Today marks World No Tobacco Day, originated by the World Health Organization. World No Tobacco Day acts as a platform to highlight the health risks associated with tobacco use and advocate for effective policies to reduce consumption. Tobacco use is the second cause of death globally (after hypertension) and is currently responsible for killing one in 10 adults worldwide. The World Health Assembly created World No Tobacco Day in 1987 to draw global attention to the tobacco epidemic and its lethal effects. It provides an opportunity to highlight specific tobacco control messages and to promote adherence to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Tobacco use is the number one preventable epidemic that the health community faces.
Staten Island University Hospital held a Youth Rally to commemorate World No Tobacco Day. It was a great opportunity for the Staten Island Youth to take a stand and send the message it is time to change the way tobacco products are marketed in our stores. I was invited as a guest speaker at the rally. Maria DeSantis, Miss Staten Island 2011, was also in attendance. What makes events like this one the most rewarding is when you see teens acting above the influence and saying no to tobacco. As I was watching the rally unfold, I couldn't help but feel incredibly proud as I witnessed groups of middle, high school, and college students sending a powerful message to tobacco companies. Our youth is tired of the advertisements being solely targeted to them. In honor of World No Tobacco Day, we all say to tobacco companies that "ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!"