NEWS

Editorial: Drive teen smoking stats lower

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

A report on smoking in New York state showed the number of high school students smoking cigarettes has declined more than 2 percent since 2005. Officials attribute the improvement to the state’s various programs and advertisements to discourage tobacco use.

That’s great news. But it needs to get even better, and we all bear some responsibility to ratchet up efforts to drive the numbers even lower.

We’ve made good strides. Some things that have been done in the area and across the state to discourage smoking, include:

- No smoking on company property. Many businesses in the Mohawk Valley have made it so employees and patrons can’t smoke anywhere on the premises. This is a great start and more companies should follow this lead.

- Higher cigarette taxes in New York. In June, the tax on cigarettes in New York increased by an additional $1.25, making the tax on a pack of cigarettes $2.75. In most of the state, cigarettes range between $6 and $8 a pack, depending on brand. Officials predicted the increase would spur more than 140,000 New Yorkers to quit for good and prevent more than 230,000 children from smoking. Furthermore, enforcing a law that allows the state to collect taxes on tobacco sold by Indian stores to non-Indians would take away the opportunity to buy cheaper smokes, and would likely cause more people to quit.

- Increased anti-smoking advertisements. Jeff Willett, director of the state Tobacco Control Program, told The Associated Press the $85 million dedicated to anti-tobacco initiatives has gone to advertising, community and school outreach, nicotine replacement therapies and a hot line to support quitting.

- Refusal to sell tobacco products. Earlier this year, Wegmans Food Markets Inc., based in the Rochester area, stopped selling cigarettes, cigars and smokeless tobacco. As a result, leaders of the American Heart Association had planned to meet soon with local grocers to encourage them to enact a similar ban on tobacco sales.

All of these efforts undoubtedly help discourage all smokers, but it’s imperative we don’t stop here. Education programs in schools and communities, when future customers are most impressionable, need to be maintained.

And perhaps the best way of all to keep young people from smoking is the time-tested answer: Set a good example and don’t smoke yourself.

Observer-Dispatch