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In the wake of the recently adopted policy of Wegmans Food Markets and a few other upstate New York grocers not to carry tobacco products, emboldened anti-smoking advocates introduced ads this week urging other supermarket operators in the state to dump cigarettes as well.
Two separate full-page ads ran in major upstate New York state newspapers, one sponsored by the state Department of Health and the other by the Capital District Tobacco-Free Coalition, a group consisting of health groups and medical providers. The ads coincided with Kick Butts Day on April 3, which encourages young people to take action against tobacco use at over 2,000 events across the nation.
The ad from the Capital District Tobacco-Free Coalition noted that Wegmans and two smaller grocers in the state, DeCicco Family Markets of Yonkers and Budwey's of Buffalo, have instituted no-tobacco policies; and asked, "When will area supermarkets put health before profits by kicking butts?"
The ad from the Health Department showed images of wholesome food found in supermarkets, with a pile of cigarettes in the center, and posed the question, "Which item doesn't belong?"
"Grocery stores are very important members of the community, and New Yorkers need their leadership on this issue," said state health commissioner Richard F. Daines in a statement. "This is the only product being sold by food markets that, when used as intended, will kill their customers and increase the number of those dying from devastating diseases like cancer."
Daines was quick to laud grocers that opt to discontinue cigarette sales. "Stores which adopt a no-tobacco sales policy would be recognized as community and industry leaders," he said.
A pending New York State bill would require all pharmacies and stores with pharmacies to stop selling tobacco. Parts of Canada have already passed similar legislation.
Although the ads didn't mention convenience stores, the New York Association of Convenience Stores responded with a flier highlighting the irony of New York sponsoring an anti-smoking ad, while simultaneously relying on new revenue under a budget plan to raise cigarette taxes, the Albany, N.Y. Times Union reported.