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I was very pleased to read your October issue on teenage smoking (“Teenage Smoking,” October, 2012). I was alarmed to read that one third of smokers who begin smoking as teens will die prematurely due to a smoking-related illness.
I am in agreement with lung cancer specialist Shahriyour Andaz, who said that it is very important to be proactive in preventing teen smoking.
I have been working with teens for almost 10 years at the YM-YWHA of Washington Heights and Inwood. I believe that parents could do more to act as role models for their children. As they say, education starts at home. Without this kind of familial support it is difficult for an adolescent to understand the harmful effects of smoking. After all, we’re working to counteract a tobacco industry that spends billions of dollars on marketing.
There are currently 11,500 licensed tobacco retailers in the city that are located within 1,000 feet of a school. What bothers me the most is that pharmacies that are supposed to promote healthy habits, sell tobacco products. We should follow the model of other counties like Canada and Ireland, where tobacco products are banned from pharmacies. These countries have seen a decline in youth tobacco use.
I think communities have a responsibility to educate our parents and youths about tobacco marketing. It is also important to educate them on the solutions being proposed to reduce the impact of tobacco marketing, such as reducing the visibility of tobacco products or removing tobacco advertisements in stores fronts.
The teen group I work with has done work to this effect. In addition, in collaboration with the Manhattan Smoke-Free Partnership, I have presented at Community Board 12 in Manhattan, regarding raising awareness and educating the public about the impact of tobacco.
Despite the great steps we have taken and the reductions in tobacco use we have seen, our work is not over. There is still much to be done in order to protect our children from the impact of tobacco use and keep them tobacco-free.
Teen Director, YM-YWHA of Washington Heights and Inwood.
©2013 Community Newspaper Group
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