Arkansas Department of Health
Tobacco Free Activists Recognized by National Group
Two Arkansas photographers are being recognized in a national tobacco prevention photography contest hosted by Countertobacco.org. Ashley Richter, a tobacco free advocate attending North Arkansas College, was a winner in the Youth Appeal category with a photo of an electronic cigarette advertisement adjacent to candies at a convenience store counter. An Honorable Mention in the same category was awarded to J.R. Few of Marion County. His photo shows a product placement of flavored cigars next to bubble gum and candy. Photos like these, showing nicotine products and ads in close proximities to candies or foodstuffs, display the unfortunate and false subliminal message that these items are harmless and normal.
Countertobacco.org is the first comprehensive resource for groups working to challenge tobacco at point of sale. The tobacco industry has a history of sophisticated and successful marketing that, in addition to a federal conviction for fraud in 2006, addicts and kills over 400,000 Americans annually. Currently, the major focus of tobacco industry marketing is the retail environment where tobacco is sold. Not coincidentally, research shows convenience stores selling tobacco are where youth most frequent.
Few, a volunteer with the Arkansas Cancer Coalition and the Coalition for a Tobacco Free Arkansas notes, “Ms. Richter’s photo is typical and important because the industry is taking advantage of a loophole in federal and state regulations for tobacco products to market electronic cigarettes. These devices are not a tool to help people overcome their nicotine addiction. They are a marketing strategy to prevent just that.” Public health research has shown that rather than helping people quit smoking, electronic cigarettes prompt a dual use of nicotine delivery with no real net health benefit. “By paying attention to groups like Countertobacco.org, one more easily understands how the tobacco industry markets deadly addictive drugs.” Few explained.
The Arkansas Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program can be reached at (501) 661-2953, 4815 W. Markham Street, Slot 3, Little Rock, AR 72205. The Arkansas Department of Health offers free counseling for tobacco addiction at 1-800-QUIT-NOW.
A link to the photography can be found here.