TO THE EDITOR: Cigarette sales are dropping. According to the latest Federal Trade Commission Cigarette Report, between 2008 and 2010 cigarette sales dropped from 342 billion to 281 billion.
This is the biggest drop in cigarette sales over a three-year period since the FTC began printing this report. Additionally, the tobacco industry’s advertising and promotions budgets have been steadily dropping; however, in 2010 there was still more than $8 billion spent annually on tobacco advertising and promotion in the United States.
Although their overall budget is decreasing, tobacco companies are targeting their advertising and promotion money on retail locations, particularly convenience stores. In 2010, 90 percent of all advertising and promotional expenditures made by tobacco companies were in the category of “price discounts” and “promotional allowances” (in 2000, those accounted for only 40 percent of expenditures).
Price discounts are payments made to retailers and wholesalers so they can sell their cigarettes at state minimums and still make a profit; promotional allowances are bonuses given to retailers and wholesalers. These incentive programs often come with a catch for retailers, usually requiring the product and related signage to be placed more prominently in the store, with special consideration given to specifically target adolescents.
Tobacco companies have admitted “today’s teen-ager is tomorrow’s potential regular customer and the overwhelming majority of smokers first begin to smoke while in their teens …”
One way for retailers and local municipalities to protect adolescents is to pass local policies and laws restricting the open display and advertising of tobacco products. Local governments also have the ability to pass their own taxes on tobacco products.
If you’re interested in learning more about tobacco advertising and ways to combat it, contact Adirondack Tobacco Free Network, Clinton County Health Department, 565-4993.
TO THE EDITOR: I read with interest Wednesday’s After 50 article “Senior Program Has Smooth Transition” in the Nov. 28 Press Republican.