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  • Melissa Potter

October 13 Declared “Seen Enough Tobacco Day” here and across New York State to Protect Youth from T

The Tobacco Free Zone & Reality Check Programs of Cortland, Tompkins & Chenango Counties, and our colleagues from across NYS, are drawing awareness to the problem of tobacco industry store marketing and its impact on youth tobacco use & perceptions of tobacco use. Because tobacco marketing is a proven cause of youth smoking, October 13th has been designated Seen Enough Tobacco Day statewide.

Reality Check of New York youth will host local events across New York State to help raise awareness and encourage community members to stand up to eliminate tobacco marketing and advertising in places where youth can see them and create a tobacco-free generation!

In Cortland County, Tobacco Free Zone and Reality Check are seeking support from community members and organizations to protect kids from tobacco marketing and access to tobacco, vape & smoking paraphernalia in our community. Those who have signed a letter of support may have posted a Seen Enough Tobacco lawn sign highlighting a tobacco fact. We have also partnered with CVS and P&C Fresh to collect signatures of support from community members, which they will display inside their business.

On Friday, October 13th, Reality Check youth will be doing an activity in Court House Park – posting pinwheels in the ground in the shape of a 13 to signify “the average age of a new smoker in NYS is 13.” We will also be recognizing our supporters. “We’ve seen enough tobacco promotions and smoking. The solution is to change our community so that tobacco and tobacco use is not the norm,” said Kelsey Gibbons, Senior at Cortland Junior Senior High School.

According to the U. S. Surgeon General, “advertising and promotional activities by tobacco companies have been shown to cause the onset and continuation of smoking among adolescents and young adults.” The day is part of the overall statewide “Seen Enough Tobacco” initiative.

Findings on youth tobacco use and tobacco industry marketing in places where children and young adolescents can see them indicate:

  • The average age of a new smoker is 13 years old, and 90 percent of adult smokers say they first tried smoking by age 18.

  • The U.S. tobacco industry spent an estimated $9.5 billion on advertising and promotion of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco in 2013. This includes nearly $220 million annually in New York State, or nearly $602,000 a day.

  • Stores popular among adolescents contain almost three times more tobacco marketing materials compared to other stores in the same community.

Currently, there are 46 tobacco and electronic cigarette retailers in Cortland County. Within the City of Cortland, 84% of those retailers fall within 1000ft of proximity to youth-related sites (schools, parks, daycare centers, Teen Center, CAPCO, YMCA, and YWCA). Children and teenagers are routinely exposed to tobacco marketing on a daily basis while on their way to school. Many students that walk or ride the city school buses may pass a tobacco retailer at least once per day.

“A number of New York communities have taken action to protect youth from tobacco marketing but we’ve got more work to do—and we’ve got the power to do it,” said Gibbons. For example, the Cities of Binghamton and Newburgh, along with the Counties of Cayuga, Ulster and Sullivan have all adopted policies to address tobacco marketing and sales near schools and other youth-friendly facilities.

If you would like to participate in our Seen Enough Tobacco Day, share photos of our lawn signs on social media using #SeenEnoughTobacco and sign the Seen Enough Tobacco online petition at to pledge your support.

For more information about the harmful effects of tobacco marketing in retail stores, visit or contact Community Engagement Coordinator Jennifer Hamilton 607-758-5501; or Reality Check Coordinator Melissa Potter 607-756-3416;

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