Siena College survey finds Capital Region supports tobacco control

Albany County
NO SMOKING_165772

CAPITAL REGION (NEWS10) — A community survey taken over the summer in Albany, Rensselaer, and Schenectady Counties indicates that most residents support tobacco control measures.

Residents were questioned about tobacco topics like banning smoking in public beaches and parks, smoking in apartment buildings, and marketing around stores and near schools. The results show strong support for policies reducing exposure to secondhand smoke, like a ban on smoking on municipal grounds (71%), at worksites (68%), and in parks and on beaches (65%). Residents also were strongly in favor—66%—of banning tobacco sales at stores by schools.

Siena College Research Institute conducted the survey on behalf of Capital District Tobacco-Free Communities (CDTFC).

“We’re encouraged to see such strong community support for strategies that we know will make it harder for kids to start and easier for people to quit,” said Judy Rightmyer, director of CDTFC. “Especially now, when covid-19 presents an additional and serious threat to lung health.”

In May, New York banned flavored e-cigarettes—including menthol—without addressing tobacco products like flavored cigarettes, cigars, cigarillos, and chew. “While 78% of area residents agree that candy and fruit flavors added to tobacco products make it easier for you to start using these products, only 45% agree that menthol in cigarettes makes it easier for youth to start smoking,” said Don Levy, director, Siena College Research Institute. Research indicates that limiting exposure to marketing and flavors reduces smoking among young people.

“Menthol not only serves as a starter kit for youth smokers, it is also disproportionately used by African American smokers as a result of decades of targeted tobacco industry marketing. African Americans experience higher rates of disease and death from tobacco use than do white Americans. They’re also experiencing disproportionate disease and death from COVID-19,” added Rightmyer.

Lung health and a strong immune response—both compromised by smoking—is an important factor for covid-positive patients. Even without considering the current pandemic, experts generally consider smoking to be the largest preventable cause of death in the country.

Take a look at the survey below:

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