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April 17, 2012 > Letter to the Editor: Just for Us

Letter to the Editor: Just for Us

Submitted By Lee Staub

Tri-City Health Center's Just for Us tobacco prevention program is taking aim at the high smoking rates among young adults through the reduction of tobacco industry marketing and sponsorship within Alameda County-based bars and night clubs.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States and is responsible for one in five deaths. So, how is it that an industry that makes, distributes and markets a product that essentially kills off their customer base stay in business? The answer is youth. "Young adult smokers are the only source of replacement smokers." (Source: RJR Tobacco Company, Bates No. 503170243)

For the past twenty-five years, tobacco companies such as Philip Morris and RJ Reynolds have created tobacco bar night promotions to attract young adults to start smoking. Tobacco companies provided bars with free promotional items including branded coasters, bar mats napkins, furniture; doled out cash incentives to bar owners; and created elaborate marketing campaigns and nightclub events that featured popular music bands such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers and a number of other attractions designed to appeal to young adults. "Philip Morris used gifts, luxury car sweepstakes, and interactive video racing games..." (Glantz, Ling, Sepe, 2002).

During these promotional events, Tobacco Company representatives (usually attractive young men and women) would socialize with the crowd, provide free giveaways to patrons in exchange for names and contact information that would later be added to mailing list and customer profile databases. "These 1993 promotions generated approximately 1.3 million new names for the Philip Morris database." (Sepe, 2002, p.6) For a chance to win a luxury car or for free "swag" these young adults become the "replacement smokers" that continue to sustain the entire industry.

Just for Us staff are working closely with local bar owners to reverse this trend through the adoption of a voluntary pledge to keep BIG tobacco out of our bars. If you own or manage a bar that doesn't have tobacco industry marketing materials Just for Us would like to recognize your commitment to public health in a local news publication. Call Lee Staub, Just for Us Project Coordinator at 510-456-3540 for more information.

Glantz, S., Ling, P., Sepe, E. (2002). Smooth Moves: Bar and Nightclub Tobacco Promotions that Target Young Adults. American Journal of Public Health, 92 (3), 414-419.

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