Q: Which of these things is most likely to kill you: murder, alcohol, suicide, tobacco, drugs, AIDS or a car crash?
A: Tobacco. It kills more people than all the causes of death listed above — Combined.
The answer to this question often shocks people. We see reports of murders and drug abuse on the news all the time, but we are not likely to hear about the 25,000 New Yorkers who die each year due to tobacco use. Almost all of us have lost someone due to smoking or have known a loved one suffering from lung disease. Yet the tobacco problem keeps repeating itself into the next generation.
We can educate our kids about smoking and set a good example, but this often is not enough. A big part of the problem is beyond our control as individuals; it’s the environment.
In 2012, the U.S. Surgeon General confirmed that a primary cause of youth smoking is exposure to tobacco marketing. Seeing tobacco promoted behind the counter in groceries, corner stores, pharmacies and other stores in our neighborhoods influences kids’ ideas about how popular and available tobacco is.
The more kids see tobacco displays in stores, the more likely they are to smoke.
Fortunately, there are things we can do to reduce kids’ exposure to tobacco marketing. In 2009, President Obama signed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. This law gave local communities the ability to regulate how tobacco products are advertised and sold.
With community support, we hope to take action that will protect our kids from becoming the next generation of nicotine addicts.
— Article by Mary Carney, Public Health Educator, MPH, CHES, with the Onondaga County Health Department, Tobacco Free Onondaga County