Preserving, protecting and sharing the natural beauty of our precious waterways are a key focus for all Western New Yorkers.

That’s why Reality Check youth in Genesee and Orleans counties recently took part in the first annual Bike the Canal for a Tobacco-Free Generation event.

The Reality Check group, which is focused on educating their peers and community members on the importance of tobacco-free environments, believes that smoke-free areas are especially vital around the Erie Canalway Trail in Orleans County.


As one of the world’s most famous man made waterways that spans New York State between Buffalo to Albany, the canal in Orleans County features a highly-trafficked bike trail, beautiful parks, recreational areas and businesses that are a regular part of our children and families’ lives, as well as an important part of our community’s historic and natural legacy.

One of these businesses is Trailside Bicycles, who sponsored and supported the Reality Check youth in their trek.

Located in the tiny hamlet of Hulberton along the Erie Canalway, the shop and its owner, Christopher VanDusen, has proudly served local cyclists, as well as those touring along the Erie Canal, for many years. The business is also a proud backer of smoke-free environments along the canal.

“Exposure to secondhand smoke in outdoor recreational areas is hazardous and should not be a nuisance in places where people want to enjoy fresh air and exercise,” says VanDusen.

Reality Check coordinator of Tobacco-Free Genesee, Livingston, Orleans and Wyoming (GOW), Brittany Bozzer and her youth stress that, “Tobacco use in family‐friendly places such as playgrounds, parks, bike trails and athletic events models unhealthy behavior and normalizes the use of tobacco. So when youth see adults smoking, they view smoking as acceptable.”

Support for tobacco-free policies is growing. Currently over 280 municipalities in New York State have passed regulations restricting tobacco use in outdoor recreational areas. A person sitting or standing next to a smoker outdoors can breathe in wisps of smoke that are many times more concentrated than normal background air pollution levels.

Reality Check is a teen-led, adult-supported program designed to reduce the terrible toll of tobacco. Reality Check is statewide across all regions of New York State, with 25 chapters from Buffalo to New York City and is part 

of the New York State Department of Health, Bureau of Tobacco Control and Roswell Park Cancer Institute. Reality Check aims to expose Big Tobacco’s manipulative and deceptive marketing tactics and strives to produce change through grassroots mobilization, political education and media campaigns like our new statewide campaign Seen Enough Tobacco at

Reality Check is against the tobacco industry, NOT SMOKERS and has groups in Kendall, Holley, St. Joes, Leroy, and Perry schools. If you are interested in starting or joining Reality Check, contact Brittany Bozzer @ 585-219-4064 or Brittany.Bozzer