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Preston youth document tobacco advertising

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A project by three Preston High School students looks to draw attention to the risk of teen smoking and the tobacco advertisements young people see all over the community.

The Throggs Neck Community Action Partnership, Bronx Smoke Free Partnership and students from Preston teamed up over the summer and visited convenience stores, delis, and bodegas on E. Tremont Avenue from Schurz Avenue to Bruckner Boulevard to document tobacco advertising, faculty member Cathy Mulvaney said.

Preston High School students Katarina Epino and Angelina Claudio presented their findings to Community Board 10’s Youth Committee on Monday, October 17, along with fellow participant Christina Eberhart. The group worked with Mulvaney on the project, and created a presentation of photos and text from the trip called “Reducing Youth Tobacco Access” that highlights many of the challenges facing those who seek to limit youth awareness of tobacco products.

“TNCAP and Bronx Smoke Free were looking to do some projects that centered around tobacco marketing,” Mulvaney said. “This is a topic that is covered in Health, and perhaps other classes, but the students have never surveyed the community before.”

With their cameras, the girls documented what they saw as they ventured out and visited establishments along Tremont Avenue over a two week period in July, Mulvaney said.

Before taking part in the project, the students didn’t really notice the ads that are both inside and outside of stores because they have been seeing them since childhood, but now realize that the ads might be affecting youth smoking habits, Claudio stated.

“I think that we decided to participate because we were afraid for our peers who may be endangering their own health and the future of New York City and the Bronx,” Claudio said. “So we wanted to make people aware that smoking is dangerous, and especially for really young children, that a cartoon character like Joe Camel can attract them to smoking.”

One thing that stood out from the trip were the “power walls,” large displays of cigarette packages and ads around the registers in many local stores, Epino said.

“Probably what we noticed most were the power walls because they were really large in most of the stores and little kids can see them because they are big and high up,” Epino stated.

At one point during the survey, the group visited Throggs Neck Pharmacy at 3569 East Tremont Avenue, whose owner Ubaldo Eguino told the students a story about why he doesn’t sell cigarettes, according to the presentation.

Before owning his own pharmacy, Eguino worked in a pharmacy called Good Health that sold cigarettes, and a customer pointed out the contradiction between smoking and good health. Now that he owns his own business, he chooses not to sell cigarettes, the students reported.

The young ladies also had suggestions on how to limit the lure of tobacco for young people, Mulvaney said.

“They understand that there is an economic aspect to it, but feel it might be helpful for teenagers if the adults asked for cigarettes rather than leaving them visible on a power wall display,” Mulvaney stated.

Patrick Rocchio can be reach via e-mail at procchio@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3393

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