I normally take photos that are upbeat, but this scene of a smoke shop in Albuquerque struck a somber chord. This is a common sight in the poorer communities of many urban centers. The advertisements for tobacco products seen here are clearly targeting young and ‘minority’ smokers. The pricing in these advertisements (2 for 99 cents) is designed to entice young smokers who can least afford to smoke. If you compare the unit pricing of the tobacco products shown in these ads to a standard 20-pack box of cigarettes, the 2 for 99 cents ‘cigarillos’ cost young consumers nearly $20.00 per pack! Offered in flavors such as mango, grape, cherry and peach, these sweet-flavored tobacco products are the gateway to a lifetime of smoking for impressionable youth.
Technically, these ‘cigarillos,’ although packaged to look like cigarettes are marketed as cigars. Why? Since 2009, the government has banned cigarettes with candy and fruit flavoring. There is no restriction on sales of cigars with such flavorings except in Maine, Maryland, New York City and Providence, R.I. This loophole makes these teen-oriented tobacco products available in every other state. According to a recent Center for Disease Control study, more than 40 percent of kids who were current smokers in the survey said they were using flavored cigars or cigarettes.
Recent studies show that cigarette smoking is now most popular among young ‘minority’ adults, the disabled, and those living below the poverty line, our most vulnerable communities. The poorer the neighborhood, the higher the density of stores selling tobacco. With the average smoker consuming a pack of cigarettes a day, at a price approaching $8.00 per pack (US) it is an expensive addiction for those who can least afford it. The health risks that come with smoking can add heavily to the financial burden imposed by this unsavory habit.
“Therefore, I appeal to you by the compassions of God, brothers, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God…” -Romans 12:1
Camera: Pentax K-x and kit 18-55mm lens. This 12.4-megapixel DSLR can be found on the used camera market for less than $200.
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