February
13
Youth from Depew and Niagara Falls meet with Senator Tim Kennedy on the Senate Floor.

Hannah doesn’t like that stores near her school contain nearly 3x the amount of tobacco ads than other stores. So she showed  Senator Angelo Morinello proof — photos she took this summer. And encouraged him to do something about it.

Hannah Plunkett from Niagara Falls at the New York State Capitol to discuss tobacco control.
Hannah Plunkett from Niagara Falls at the New York State Capitol to discuss tobacco control.

Abby doesn’t like that tobacco is everywhere at her school. 

“You can see chewing tobacco cans in backs of pockets. You can see cigarettes in backpacks. You can smell nicotine on people,” said Abby Proctor of West Valley Central.

She talked to Senator Catherine Young in Albany about this issue and urged that more support is needed to fight the deadly dangers of tobacco use in her Cattaraugus County community. 

Shoshona, a new advocate for tobacco-free living, educates kids in her community about the tactics of the tobacco industry to get them to start smoking as teenagers, or earlier.

Abby Procter, along with fellow Reality Check youth from Cattaraugus and Chautauqua County ask Senator Young for her support.
Abby Proctor, along with fellow Reality Check youth from Cattaraugus and Chautauqua County, ask Senator Young for her support in saving lives and money that are lost to tobacco use.

“The average age for a new smoker is 13 years old,” she told Assemblyman Steve Hawley. “We need to do more to more to protect our kids from tobacco.”  

Reality Check youth

These are the messages Reality Check youth from across Western New York delivered to state lawmakers in Albany on February 7.  Overall, 15 advocates, from Falconer and Niagara Falls to LeRoy and West Valley, made the journey. They met with Senator Cathy Young, Assemblyman Joseph Giglio, Assembly Andy Goodell, Assemblyman Steve Hawley, Senator Michael Ranzenhofer, Senator Tim Kennedy, Assemblywoman Monica Wallace, Assemblyman Angelo Morinello and Assemblyman Mike Norris.

Fight against tobacco epidemic continues

“We’ve made great strides in combating the tobacco epidemic, but more work needs to be done to reduce the significantly higher smoking rates among disparate populations in our region and throughout the state,” said Jonathan Chaffee, Youth Engagement Coordinator at Tobacco-Free Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany Counties (TFCCA).

Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable disease, disability and death in New York State; 28,200 lives are lost due to tobacco dependence every year.

Each year, the Reality Check group visits the New York State Capitol to educate lawmakers about the success of established tobacco control programs and opportunities to further reduce the burden of tobacco addiction on New Yorkers.