For the second time, a federal judge has determined that local laws to prevent the tobacco industry from offering discounts on cigarettes are not a violation of First Amendment rights. New York City’s new law that banned the redemption of coupons, multipack discounts, and lower prices on other goods when purchased with tobacco was upheld yesterday in a U.S. District Court. A similar ordinance in Providence, RI was upheld by a federal court in 2012.
This decision is a huge victory for New York City and a huge win for public health. New York State has the highest cigarette tax in the nation, and witnessed a significant decrease in the smoking rate as a result. This positive health benefit of the higher tax is being compromised by the tobacco industry’s counter move to offer deep price discounts on cigarettes. By making their products less expensive, the industry can keep them more affordable, especially to young people who are particularly price-sensitive.
New York City and Providence have fought the fight and landed on solid constitutional ground, paving the way for other communities to follow suit. Will the Capital District be next?
Thanks to the efforts of the Troy Drug-Free Community Coalition, more than forty people turned out last night to participate in a community conversation about the impact of substance abuse on Troy residents and what can be done about it. Panelists included a mother whose son nearly died from his heroin addiction, people in recovery, Deputy Commissioner of Rensselaer County Department of Mental Health Lou Desso, Troy Police Chief John Tedesco, and Joe LaCoppola, Program Director at Conifer Park in Troy.
Addressing substance abuse in all its forms—tobacco, alcohol, prescription drugs, marijuana and other illicit drugs—and preventing young people from using substances is a community goal that we at the Tobacco-Free Coalition share. To learn more about preventing youth tobacco use, see what you can do here.
Although the smoking rate among New York State adults has fallen to an all-time low of 16.2% over the past decade, the smoking rate among people with mental illness has remained relatively unchanged at 32.5%. People living with mental illness smoke more, suffer more, and die more than do people without mental illness. In fact, half of all deaths among people with behavioral health disorders may be attributable to smoking-related illnesses. These deaths are preventable.
That’s why the Center for Smoking Cessation and the Capital District Tobacco-Free Coalition, in collaboration with the Capital District Commissioners of Mental Health and the New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH), launched the Tri-County Behavioral Health Initiative for Tobacco-Free Living. The Initiative aims to reduce smoking among people living with serious mental illness (SMI) in the Capital District community by increasing the delivery of effective tobacco dependence treatment by behavioral health providers. Nine behavioral health provider agencies in Albany, Rensselaer and Schenectady counties are currently participating. Learn more here.
Niskayuna S.A.P.E (Students Advocating for a Positive Environment) brought attention to Big Tobacco’s deceptive marketing practices by celebrating World No Tobacco Day. In collaboration with Capital Region Reality Check, students got busy “Chalking the Walk” with tobacco-free messaging. Students wrote facts about tobacco and tobacco marketing on the sidewalk outside of their new cafeteria during lunch time to educate students and staff. Students also gave away information and RC swag prizes. Awesome event! If you missed it, you can read all about it in the Times Union.
If you support protecting kids from tobacco marketing in stores and pharmacies, join the growing number of Capital District residents in our #WeveSeenEnough gallery! It’s easy!
Just take a photo of yourself, your family or a group you belong to holding a sign that says “#WeveSeenEnough” (or your own personal message) and either e-mail it to email@example.com or post it to your favorite social media site with the hash tag #WeveSeenEnough. Be sure to include your first name and city so we can share it with your community leaders and decision-makers. Oh, and don’t forget to smile!
SEFCU has done an extraordinary job of creating a workplace culture of health and wellness, including making their headquarters and branch offices tobacco-free!
From L to R: Sheree Hipwell, SEFCU; Amanda Russell, SEFCU; Barbara Hess, SEFCU Chief Administrative Officer; Theresa Zubretsky, CDTFC; Michelle Haney, SEFCU; and Suzanne Swan, Strategic Alliance for Health.
Want to work in a healthy and supportive environment? Consider employment at the Albany Public Library! CDTFC joined the Albany County Strategic Alliance for Health in recognizing APL’s impressive workplace wellness initiatives. What an inspiring group! Congratulations!
From L to R: Melanie Metzger, Asst Director; Carol Nersinger, Director; Theresa Zubretsky, CDTFC; and Mary-Ellen Piche, VP Board of Trustees.
The College of St. Rose adopted a comprehensive tobacco-free policy to protect students, employees and visitors from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke. They did an awesome job with their policy development and implementation! See their Tobacco-Free Initiative page here!
From L to R: Judy Rightmyer, CDTFC; Dennis McDonald, VP for Student Affairs; Dr. Margaret Kirwin, Interim President for Academic Affairs; Sue Swan, Strategic Alliance for Health.
A group of attorneys general, led by Eric T. Schneiderman of New York and Mike DeWine of Ohio, urged five of the country’s largest retailers, Rite-Aid, Walgreen, Kroger, Safeway, and Walmart, to follow the lead of CVS Caremark and stop selling tobacco products in stores that have pharmacies. Mr. Schneiderman said pharmacies and drugstores send a mixed message when they market themselves as a source for community health care and continue to sell deadly products. Read the letter here.
Area youth created a powerful visual display in partnership with Crossgates Mall on Kick Butts Day 2014 to bring attention to the impact of tobacco marketing on young people. With the help of community coalitions, youth groups and service organizations, we collected 245 shoes to represent the 245 young people under age 18 who become new daily smokers every week in NYS, and used those shoes to spell out “We’ve Seen Enough.” In partnership with Reality Check, we also hosted some fun activities and invited Capital Region residents to “Kick Tobacco Marketing to the Curb!” The event got lots of local media coverage including this Troy Record article.