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N.Y. Grocers Honored for Smokeless Stance

Anti-smoking groups are recognizing N.Y.-based grocers Wegmans Food Markets and DeCicco Markets for discontinuing the sale of tobacco products at their stores.

The American Lung Association of New York State presented Wegmans with the Lung Champion Award to recognize the Rochester, N.Y.-based grocer’s January 2008 decision to stop the sale of such items at all 70 of its locations, which are in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, and Maryland; as well as for its overall commitment to public health.

“The American Lung Association of New York State commends Wegmans for its leadership in removing cigarettes from store shelves and putting the public health of its employees and customers above profits,” noted Deborah Carioto, president and c.e.o. of the Albany, N.Y.-based organization. “Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in this country, and with the single act of halting tobacco sales in its stores, Wegmans has set what I hope will be a trend among major retailers in this country.”

In accepting the award, Wegmans s.v.p. for consumer affairs Mary Ellen Burris said, “Wegmans believes that the many young people who work in our stores will be affected by the message the company they work for is willing to give up profits out of concern for their health.”

Wegmans offers a smoking cessation program to its associates, 550 of whom are currently enrolled.

Meanwhile, at its sixth annual “No Thanks, Big Tobacco” appreciation event, the Elmsford, N.Y.-based Tobacco Control Partners of the Lower Hudson Valley recognized six local individuals, government officials, businesses, and organizations in Westchester, Rockland, Putnam and Orange counties that instituted smoke-free policies, including Pelham, N.Y.-based DeCicco Markets, with locations in both Westchester and Rockland counties, which stopped selling tobacco products at five of its six grocery stores in February. The sixth location, which opened in Ardsley, N.Y. last year, has never carried tobacco products.

Also discussed at the event, which took place at the Thayer Hotel in West Point, N.Y., was the New York State tobacco tax increase slated to take effect June 3.

In her opening remarks, Rachel Iverson, associate director of the Tobacco Control Program at the New York State Department of Health, said: “The largest state cigarette tax increase ever enacted -- $1.25 -- gives the Tobacco Control Partners of the Lower Hudson Valley an enormous opportunity to promote smoking cessation, if not only for health benefits, but for personal financial benefits as well. According to our New York State Department of Health, this tax increase will prevent approximately 243,000 children alive today from becoming smokers in the future, and will motivate about 140,000 adult smokers to quit for good.”

Other grocers that have recently stopped carrying cigarettes include six New Jersey ShopRites operated by ShopRites of Cherry Hill, Budwey Supermarket stores in upstate New York, and Andronico’s in Albany, Calif.
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