Tobacco Marketing

Tobacco Marketing

Did you know?

  • 90 percent of all adult smokers begin before age 18.[1]
  • 1 out of 5 high school smokers usually obtain their cigarettes by purchasing them in retail stores.[2]
  • The more tobacco marketing kids see, the more likely they are to smoke.


Where does Big Tobacco market to our youth?

Convenience stories, pharmacies and bodegas are some of the last places where the tobacco industry can target our youth. In New York City, there are almost 10,000 licensed tobacco retailers[3] and approximately 75 percent of these stores are located within one thousand feet of a school perimeter.[4]  We are committed to reducing youth exposure to tobacco marketing.

What are some possible solutions? 

  • Reduce tobacco marketing in stores
  • Limit the sale of tobacco near schools
  • Prohibit the sale of tobacco at pharmacies

Why is it important to reduce tobacco marketing in stores? 

In 2011, the tobacco industry national spending on tobacco advertising, promotions, and price discounts for wholesalers and retailers rose from $8.05 billion to $8.37 billion. [5]  This is more than the amount spent to market junk food, soda, and alcohol combined.[6],[7]  In New York State alone, the tobacco industry spends approximately $213,5 million a year to market its deadly products.

Studies show that even brief exposure to tobacco advertising influences adolescents’ intentions to smoke.[8]. With over two thirds of teens shopping in convenience stores at least once per week, we must take action to reduce youth exposure to in‐store tobacco marketing.


Why limit the sale of tobacco near schools?

Three out of four licensed tobacco retailers in New York City are located within a few blocks of a school.  According to a 2011 public opinion survey, 65 percent of New Yorkers support limiting tobacco retailers near schools.  Limiting the sale of tobacco products near schools will reduce our youth’s easy access to tobacco products. 


Why prohibit the sale of tobacco products in pharmacies?

There are over 4,300 licensed pharmacies in New York State.  Currently, tobacco products are not sold at hospitals, medical clinics, retailers Target and Wegmans, and 85% of independent pharmacies.  However, over 50% of large chain drug stores – including Duane Reade, Walgreens, and Rite Aid – sell tobacco products.  The Pharmacist Society of the State of New York, the New York Pharmacist Society and 60 percent of New Yorkers favor prohibiting the sale of tobacco products in pharmacies.

Pharmacies function primarily as providers of health care and smoking cessation medications, not retailers of deadly tobacco products.  Prohibiting the sale of tobacco products in pharmacies would serve the pharmacies’ branding, encourage healthy living, and reduce the number of new youth smokers. 

“Take a Walk in Our Shoes”: A Youth’s Perspective

During the week of October 17, 2011, the Coalition partnered with the American Lung Association of the Northeast, community partners and youth from all five boroughs to lead decision makers on walking tours of the blocks that surrounded their communities’ schools. The tours highlighted the presence of tobacco marketing that targets youth.  The "Take a Walk in Our Shoes" Tobacco Marketing tours were a huge success! Here is video coverage from all five walks:







Tobacco Free NYS

We’ve Seen Enough

Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids


More Resources:

Tobacco Retail Factsheet

Infographic: Tobacco Marketing Targets Our Youth

(Chinese version)

Overexposed: Big Tobacco's Advertising Saturation Around NYC Schools

Youth Activism in Tobacco Control: A Toolkit for Action

Removing Tobacco from the Product-Mix: Evaluating Opportunities for Pharmacy Retailers

The Toll of Tobacco in New York

Discussion Paper on the Pharmacy Profit Analysis Final Report

Prescription for a Healthy City: Making New York City Pharmacies Tobacco Free

Five-Second Commerical "This is Tobacco Marketing"

Personal Story #1

Personal Story #2

  1. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “National Household Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2007.”
  2. New York State Department of Health.  “Youth Tobacco Survey 2008.”
  3. New York State Department of Tax and Finance, 2012.
  4. Luke, Douglas A., PhD, et. al. "Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act: Banning Outdoor Tobacco Advertising Near Schools and Playgrounds." (American Journal of Preventive Medicine 2011; 40(3): 295-302).
  5. U.S. Federal Trade Commission. “Cigarette Report for 2011.”
  6. U.S. Federal Trade Commission.  “A Report to Congress: Marketing Food to Children and Adolescents: A Review of Industry Expenditure, Activities and Self Regulation.”  2008.
  7. U.S. Federal Trade Commission.  “2005 Self Regulation in the Alcohol Industry FTC Report.”
  8. National Cancer Institute. “The role of media in promoting and reducing tobacco use.” NIH publication no. 07 6242, 2008.