Boston Stores To Limit Tobacco Ads

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Tobacco Ads

Mayor Thomas M. Menino, joined by Boston public health and school officials, as well as members of youth advocacy groups, today urged convenience stores and liquor stores to adhere to City regulations limiting the advertising of tobacco products to minors.

"We've done a great job in Boston of getting these stores to comply with the law forbidding the sale of tobacco products to minors," Mayor Menino said at the Tropic Food Market in Dorchester. "Now it's time for merchants to abide by the City's sign code that limits advertisements."

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He called on neighborhood associations to help the City enforce the code by reporting stores that appear to be in violation to the Inspectional Services Department. Mayor Menino's renewed push comes on the heels of a study done by Sociedad Latina, a Latino youth advocacy group partially funded by the City, that examined tobacco, junk food, and alcohol advertising in stores around Boston.

The survey found that stores in low-income communities had more advertisements than those in more affluent communities. Most of those ads on the windows and doors were placed no higher than three feet, or within eye-level of young children. The majority of the ads were for tobacco products. In addition, the survey found that 34 percent of the tobacco ads are in stores located near a school, a community center, or a playground.

Dr. Barbara Ferrer, executive director of the Boston Public Health Commission, said, "There are serious public health consequences to kids being bombarded with tobacco advertisement at such a young age. Either we act now to limit their exposure or we pay the price later when they start smoking and get sick."

Boston's sign code requires businesses to seek a permit to install a permanent window sign, which cannot exceed 30 percent of the total window space. A permit is not required for a temporary sign, which can stay up for 15 days. But many businesses bypass the permit process and keep the signs up longer than the code allows.

Boston Public School Superintendent Carol Johnson said, "Upon dismissal, many students head to the local convenience store for an after school snack. I believe it is only proper for the stores to respect the health of the students by not subjecting them to a barrage of advertisements for junk food and tobacco products. I commend those stores that abide by the rules and ask the others to consider the well-being of our students."

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