Nix on Nicotine

Keywords: quit smoking, freedom from tobacco, anti-tobacco, smoking cessation, smoking deterrence, nicotine addiction

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Marketing Tobacco to Kids

I visited my local King Soopers grocery store recently, and paused to observe the tobacco display that I walk past every time I’m in the store.  The large, well-lit glass-front case extends from about 7 feet down to about 18 inches off the floor – placing the colorful cigarette packages at eye-level for any child old enough to walk.  But that’s not all!  Immediately adjacent to the tobacco case is a 25-cent gumball machine and the penny-per-ride “horsie.”  Could this be an accident or oversight on the part of management?

Feeling more than just a little curious, I asked the manager on duty about the display, pointing out the eye-level placement of the tobacco and the nearby child-magnets.  He smiled pleasantly and nodded as I spoke, but offered no suggestion that things could or would be changed. 

Tobacco companies rely on community retail partners to help them sell tobacco to children.  They know that almost no one starts smoking as an adult:  more than 90% of smokers become addicted before the age of 18, some starting as early as 8 years old.  Getting children hooked on nicotine is key to big tobacco’s ongoing profitability.

Here are just a few of the underhanded strategies they use:
  • Offering smokeless tobacco products (“dip” or “chew”) in self-serve displays near candy, gum, and snacks; these products are offered in enticing fruit, mint, and other flavors that appeal to children.
  • Displaying tobacco products within easy reach of children, and reimbursing store owners for losses due to shoplifting.
  • Placing signs at kid eye-level with cartoon-drawings, purportedly to forbid underage tobacco use, but actually to enhance the perception that tobacco is “grown up” and underage use is rebellious or defiant. 
  • Offering toys (again placed at kid eye-level) as premiums with tobacco purchases to cause kids to “lobby” their parents into buying the tobacco product so that they get the toy.
  • Displaying tobacco in movies and television programs, particularly in PG-13 movies, of which more than 80% show tobacco use.
Recently revealed in documents produced by Big Tobacco under Court order is the euphemism they use for the 12 to 18-year age group:  “Replacement Smokers.”

Sunday, April 17, 2011

We Have a Winner!

I am delighted to announce the winning artwork for the NIX ON NICOTINE campaign logo!  Combining the efforts of two talented artists who have graciously agreed to share the contest prize, our new campaign image is both graphic and compelling.  The artwork by Denver artists Matt Jaramillo and John Keller captures our message and we'll be proud to display it everywhere.  Heartfelt thanks to the artists, to our sponsors, and to all of our supporters.

Press release to follow....

Monday, April 4, 2011

Informed and Aware

My partner on the in-school freedom from tobacco campaign is PS1 Charter School here in Denver.  My sons, Quentin (who died at age 23 from tobacco-related illness) and Monty (who has now kicked the habit)  attended PS1 for their middle and high school years.

The PS1 vision statement for its students includes a goal of being "informed and aware."  I think this is an excellent goal for everyone, especially with respect to substances we put into our bodies.  I believe that if smokers become informed and aware of the content of cigarettes, they will find greater motivation to quit the habit.

So take a look at just a few of the chemical compounds found in cigarette smoke, and alternative uses for those chemicals.

     acetone - nail polish solvent
     methanol - highly flammable/explosive alcohol, used in rocket fuel
     napthalene - moth repellent
     nicotine - herbicide and insecticide
    cadmium - heavy metal used in batteries
     carbon monoxide - the lethal component of automobile exhaust fumes
     vinyl chloride - plastic
    cyanhydric acid - used in gas chambers
    ammonia - detergent
    urethane - floor finish
    toluene - industrial solvent
    arsenic - lethal poison, rodenticide
    polonium 210 - radioactive compound used recently to murder a Soviet spy
    DDT - insecticide

Now, let me ask this.  Would you knowingly and willingly swallow, inhale, or otherwise ingest any one of the above chemicals day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year?  Would you administer any one of them to a trusting child?  Smoking delivers at least 81 different toxic chemicals to your body and to people around you.  Quit today for your health.  Quit today for a child.  Quit today for someone who loves you.  Quit today!

Friday, April 1, 2011


No fooling around!  Just one more week to deadline for the art contest, and your chance to win the $250 CASH PRIZE!  I'll be distributing more contest announcements throughout Denver art galleries tonight, where a big turnout is expected for the First Friday gallery open-house night. 

The winner of the logo contest will not only win the cash prize, but will also be invited to sit on the judging panel for NEXT MONTH'S POSTER CONTEST, to be announced soon after the logo art winner is selected.  Don't miss your chance!  If you need an entry form, call me at 303-964-9129 or email me at

I am also very pleased to announce that my good friend and co-worker, Darrin Ray has KICKED THE SMOKING HABIT!  Keep up the good work, Darrin - you CAN and you WILL do it!