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Post date: February 23 2000

Spitzer Legislation Prevents All Tobacco Ads Aimed At Children

Attorney General Spitzer said today that he is proposing legislation to prevent all tobacco companies from advertising and marketing their products to children in New York.

The legislation would enact into state law many of the prohibitions contained in the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) with major tobacco companies.

"As both the Attorney General and a parent, I want to ensure that any and all tobacco companies -- in business today, or in the future -- will not be able to target children," said Spitzer. "Although the major tobacco companies agreed in the MSA that they would not market their products to children, other manufacturers were not parties to that agreement, and thus are not bound by those same restrictions. As a result, it's essential that we enact these prohibitions. By doing so we hope to prevent today's kids, and all future generations of children, from becoming addicted to smoking."

Spitzer noted that while cigarette use by adults has decreased during the past 10 years, smoking by teenagers and young children has actually increased during the same period. In New York State, approximately 87,000 children under the age of 18 begin smoking every year, one-third of high school students are smokers, and almost 19 million packs of cigarettes are sold illegally to children every year.

"If current trends continue, approximately 377,000 children in New York will die prematurely from smoking," said the Attorney General. "It's our hope and belief that this legislation can help save many of those lives, which will be ended by the ravages of cancer, heart disease and emphysema."

In response to the Spitzer's proposal, the Director of the Center for a Tobacco-Free New York, Russell Sciandra said, "The Attorney General's legislation closes a loophole enabling cigarette makers who don't sign the MSA to target children with the advertising tricks that the big tobacco companies were forced to give up. This measure and proposed laws to further limit outdoor advertising and ban self-service tobacco displays in retail stores, will be important tools in the effort to cut teenage tobacco use in New York."

New York State has tried to implement a policy of discouraging smoking by children in a variety of ways, including a prohibition against the sale of tobacco products to minors, a ban on the distribution of free tobacco products to minors, and limitations on the placement of vending machines in areas accessible to children. Unfortunately, these efforts have not achieved the goal of substantially reducing or eliminating smoking by children in the state.

The Attorney General's legislative proposal would:

  • Prohibit the advertising, promotion and marketing of tobacco products to children;
  • Ban the sponsorship of team sports such as football, basketball, baseball, hockey and soccer, as well as events where the audience or participants are minors;
  • Impose restrictions on outdoor advertising, including billboards and transit advertisements, as well as signs in arenas, stadiums, shopping malls and video arcades;
  • Prohibit the tobacco companies from making payments to promote their products in movies, television, theater productions, music performances and videos;
  • Ban the use of tobacco brand names and logos on apparel and merchandise, such as caps, t-shirts and backpacks;
  • Ban the distribution of free gifts to children in return for tobacco coupons or other credits;
  • Prohibit agreements to suppress research into the health consequences of smoking; and
  • Prohibit misrepresentations of fact regarding the health consequences of smoking.

In addition to this latest proposal, Attorney General Spitzer urged the Legislature to enact legislation that he proposed last year to prohibit the sale of tobacco products to children under 21 years of age, and to suspend lottery and alcoholic beverage licenses of stores that engage in the sale of tobacco to minors.

The Attorney General also is implementing an education campaign regarding restrictions on marketing of tobacco products through a tip card distributed to the public and posted on his web site