Published on June 22nd, 2018 | by Burlington Partnership


Students Expose #BigTobacco in Photo Documentary on Church St

Zooming In on the Impact of Big Tobacco in Burlington: A photo documentary by Edmunds Middle School Students

There are 22 tobacco retailers within a ½ mile of Edmunds Middle School.

Students from our Be Above group decided to document the saturation of tobacco advertising & tobacco products in the neighborhood around their school. They found piles of cigarette butts, advertisements that use youth-friendly messaging, and signs celebrating the arrival of a new, highly addictive product.

The students wanted to share what they found with their community. They selected photos and captioned them with information about why the images are concerning. Use of a prominent, temporarily vacant storefront on a prime location on Church Street was generously donated to the group. The goals of their project are to increase awareness of tobacco marketing in their community and inspire social change.

Tatiana Byam, an Edmunds Middle School student and BE Above member who worked on the project, said “When people see our project, I want them to take away from it that kids are always seeing these tobacco ads and products in their communities. Every single day they are blasted with them. We need to work together to prevent kids’ constant exposure to tobacco.”

Studies show that tobacco use is associated with exposure to retail advertising and relative ease of in-store access to tobacco products. Frequent exposure to tobacco product advertising and marketing at retail locations normalizes tobacco and smoking for youth over time and makes them more likely to smoke.

So, what can we do? Edmunds Middle School student and BE Above member Ella Mason encourages the Burlington community to support young people in making healthy choices, stating, “These ads are changing kids and teenagers’ perceptions of how many people are using tobacco and/or how bad tobacco is for them. We need to end tobacco companies’ targeting of young people at stores in Burlington.”

The photos are on display at 93 Church St in Burlington starting Friday, June 22.

To learn more about this project check out this coverage by My Champlain Valley.

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