PLATTSBURGH — The messages, written with chalk in a variety of colors on the sidewalks of downtown Plattsburgh, were clear and self-explanatory.
En masse, the words praised the New York state Indoor Clean Air Act that prohibits smoking inside restaurants and bars, but reminded passersby that we still have a long way to go to reduce the impact tobacco advertising has on youth smoking.
“Today is the 10-year anniversary of the (amended) Clean Indoor Air Act in New York state,” said Dana Isabella, coordinator of Reality Check, the grassroots organization in which teenagers fight to reduce teen smoking and the factors that promote it.
“We praise their efforts to improve the quality of health in our state,” she said of the political leaders who took on the controversial issue to upgrade the 1989 Indoor Clean Air Act and ban smoking in restaurants and bars.
“But now we’d like them to protect kids from tobacco marketing in stores and pharmacies.”
Chalk the Walk was one way Reality Check could bring that message to the community.
Isabella and Kim Cummins, program assistant for the Plattsburgh chapter, spent several hours on the 10th anniversary of the amendment writing their messages in front of downtown eateries that gave permission for Reality Check to create its artwork.
“This is something each community can do to protect our children,” Isabella said of efforts to restrict tobacco advertising that targets youth in area businesses. “We can stop the marketing that targets youth smoking.”
Reality Check argues that tobacco displays in stores are specifically designed to attract children. Packages of tobacco products are often similar to playing-card packages, candy and gum packages and even popular mint packages, Isabella noted.
“There isn’t a way kids can go into a store and buy a bottle of water without being exposed to cigarette displays,” she said. “We want kids to be protected. We don’t want them to think tobacco is a normal product.”