60 youth from Reality Check of New York and No Limits Nebraska stormed through Richmond, VA. on May 17. The group’s goal: to tell Altria Group, the nation’s No. 1 tobacco company and owner of Marlboro maker Philip Morris USA (PMUSA), that they’ve seen enough tobacco marketing and they want the company to stop targeting teens like them.
The youth activists took their stand outside the Altria Group’s annual shareholder’s meeting. While peers at home were talking prom and spring concerts, Reality Check youth talked up tobacco, asking Altria Group’s CEO, Marty Barrington: If Philip Morris says they don’t want teens to start smoking, then why are they spending $9.6 million per year marketing their products where kids can see it?
Reality Check, New York’s youth tobacco control movement, focuses on spreading the truth about tobacco and nicotine products. Here’s one truth on why a student joined:
- Because of the effect tobacco use had on a family member. One student’s grandpa smoked all of his life and ended up getting lung cancer because of it. He went into remission twice, but since he was so addicted, he couldn’t stop smoking even after he found out he was “cured.”
The program also teaches leadership skills and helps students learn to express their opinion on controversial topics. Reality Check champions often come into the program shy and graduate with the loudest, proudest voices for public health in their communities.
We encourage teens across Western New York to visit tobaccofreewny.com to learn more or join Reality Check. With your help, we can make the next generation tobacco-free.