Governor Paterson Proclaims September 25 Wegmans Tobacco-Free Day

State Health Commissioner Presents Danny Wegman With First State Tobacco Prevention Award

HENRIETTA, N.Y. (Sept. 25, 2008) – In recognition of Wegmans Food Markets' efforts to promote community health and wellness, Governor David A. Paterson proclaimed today as Wegmans Tobacco-Free Day.

State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D., today presented Wegmans Food Markets CEO, Danny Wegman, with the first New York State Tobacco Control Leadership Award. The award recognizes Wegmans' significant contributions to advancing the health of New Yorkers by removing cigarettes and tobacco products from all Wegmans Food Markets.

"New York salutes Wegmans by proclaiming today Wegmans Food Markets Tobacco-Free Day throughout the state," said Governor Paterson. "Today we recognize Wegmans' vision and leadership in advancing the health of New Yorkers and its commitment to creating a more healthful environment for its customers and employees by removing cigarettes and tobacco products from all Wegmans Food Markets."

"I am delighted to recognize Wegmans Food Markets as a good neighbor and as a leader in the industry and the community for putting the health of their customers and employees first," said Commissioner Daines. "By stopping the sale of cigarettes and supporting an employee smoking cessation program, Wegmans sent a powerful message to their customers that tobacco is not welcome and cannot be a part of Wegmans' healthy environment."

Wegmans also established a free smoking cessation program for its employees who wanted to quit smoking, at the same time the company stopped the sale of all tobacco products in its stores. Since February, nearly 700 Wegmans employees and some of their family members have completed the smoking cessation program. Commissioner Daines also noted that Budwey's Supermarket in North Tonawanda and the DeCicco Family Markets downstate have also stopped selling cigarettes and tobacco products.

Smoking kills 25,500 New Yorkers every year. Annually, 570,000 New Yorkers are afflicted with lung cancer, heart disease, stroke, emphysema, bronchitis and other deadly diseases caused by smoking. If current smoking rates are not drastically reduced, it is projected that 389,000 New York State youth now aged 17 and under will eventually die from smoking.

"Tobacco 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," said Dr. Daines.

New York's comprehensive model tobacco control effort includes one of the strongest clean indoor air laws in the nation, and, in July, Governor Paterson enacted the highest cigarette excise tax of any state. Youth and adult smoking rates in New York are at their lowest levels on record, at 13.8 percent and 18.9 percent, respectively. The NYS Smokers Quitline provides free smoking cessation services and nicotine replacement products.

Additionally, Dr. Daines has called on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to change its regulations to allow nicotine replacement products available in less-expensive and smaller consumer-friendly, daily dose packages. Dr. Daines also called on the six major movie industry giants to stop portraying smoking in children's movies.

Reducing the availability and promotion of tobacco products is crucial to helping smokers quit and discouraging children and teens from starting to smoke. Science shows that higher advertising levels and prominent cigarette promotions are associated with increased smoking among youth.

For information about quitting smoking, please call the toll-free NYS Smokers' Quitline at 1-866-NY-QUITS (1-866-697-8487), or visit the NYS Smokers' Quitline website at http://www.nysmokefree.com/newweb/default.aspx.