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March 18, 2005

Local High School Students Take a Stand Against Cigarette Ads in Magazines

OSWEGO – What do Time, Newsweek, U.S. News and World Report, Sports Illustrated and People Magazine have in common? They are publications found in many middle school and high school libraries that accept numerous forms of tobacco advertising. Teenagers who are involved in the Oswego County Reality Check program consider this to be a serious problem.

Reality Check representatives Emily Greene of Fulton and Ben Frasier of Mexico recently participated in a youth board meeting of Reality Check members from counties across New York State. At that meeting they discussed the results of a survey conducted last fall of 223 school libraries throughout New York State. The survey found that 73 percent of the high school and middle school libraries carried magazines that accept tobacco advertisements. People Magazine and Sports Illustrated at times carried three tobacco advertisements per issue.

Katie Ives, Reality Check coordinator with the Oswego City-County Youth Bureau, said studies have shown that more than a third of all smoking experimentation by teens is directly associated with tobacco advertising and promotional items. “Research has shown that, over time, nonsmoking teens that have a favorite cigarette ad are twice as likely to begin smoking than those who do not. Therefore, it makes perfect sense to keep tobacco advertisements away from the school setting, where teens spend a significant amount of time.”

Ives said the Master Settlement Agreement in 1998 made it illegal for tobacco companies to directly target youth. In 2003 the National Association of Attorneys General reached an agreement with four major tobacco companies to use a “selective binding” process and remove ads for cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products from magazines distributed to high school classrooms.

Teens in Oswego County are motivated to take this issue a step further.

“We surveyed four schools in Oswego County,” said Greene, “and we found many magazines with tobacco advertisements in them. Given the fact that these magazines are in school specifically for teens to read and get information from, it seems very hypocritical to have advertising in them that could potentially give them a lenient view toward such an addictive and deadly product.”

Ives said the local group intends to continue educating the community through presentations, as well as put pressure on magazine producers to use the selective binding process when putting together magazines that will go to schools.

Oswego County Reality Check is part of New York State’s comprehensive tobacco control program. Reality Check is designed to mobilize youth to take action by exposing the marketing practices of the tobacco industry.

For more information, contact Ives at 349-3451 or e-mail oswegorc@hotmail.com

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