This post was sponsored by Tobacco Free New York State as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.
When I was a little kid, it was Joe Camel. And the Marlboro Man. And candy cigarettes, especially the ones that actually blew fake smoke. It was action heroes and TV stars and even some athletes, believe it or not.
Smoking was cool. At least, that’s what they wanted you to think. And it worked. It’s still working, especially with e-cigarettes. But enough is enough. It’s time to sign the “Seen Enough Tobacco” pledge.
And I’m not a joiner, so this is a big step for me.
The average age of a new smoker in New York State is 13 years old, which totally tracks with my experience growing up. I was in Connecticut, but I was about 13 when I first gave them a shot. It was with a pack of Merits I split with a friend in the woods behind his house. Luckily it didn’t take. At least not until college.
But the message had been ingrained in me, and other kids my age, from an early age.
Cigarettes were cool and fun and bad-ass! Which are things most kids want to be. And while the tide seems to be turning against that idea – my 8yo thinks it’s insane that anyone would ever smoke – technology has given tobacco new life. E-cigarette use grew 160% among high schoolers over the past four years.
Our kids have seen enough. When I was a teen, my dad tried to scare me straight, but it didn’t work because it was too easy to see “evidence” of cigarettes being cool. It’s time to take action and protect them from being exposed to tobacco products in stores – which is why I’m participating in the “Seen Enough Tobacco” campaign to eliminate cigarette advertising from convenience stores, where kids can’t help but see it, and asking you to sign the pledge with me.
I live in New York City, and while smoking is verboten in most public places, my kids are still exposed to the advertising at our local bodegas and convenience stores, every time they’re grabbing a bag of Sour Patch Kids or a can of Coke. My 8yo may hate the idea of smoking, but he’s obsessed with technology and gadgets, which makes e-cigarettes and vaping a bit of a concern. They look futuristic, especially to a little kid.
It’s like getting lung cancer, but inside The Matrix! Cool!
Joe Camel may be gone, but Big Tobacco will never stop attempting to market to children. They’re impressionable, and the earlier they start, the longer they’ll be hooked, which means the more money cigarette companies will make. It’s a disgusting calculus, and one of the best ways to stop it is to prevent kids from seeing it.
Which is what the Seen Enough Tobacco campaign is doing. They’re trying to keep cancer sticks out of our kids’ minds by getting their ads out of our kids’ sight. Seems like a good idea to me!