Our community engagement and youth advocacy work may have changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But our commitment to reducing tobacco use in Western New York remains the same. 

To reduce the risk to communities and our staff, here are some ways we’re interacting with our new normal (which like yours, changes by the day).

  • Zoom, Zoom and more Zoom. Whether meeting with our  Reality Check youth, planning with our public health partners or brainstorming new strategies as a team, we’ve embraced and gotten pretty proficient in Zoom.
    Ending team meeting with a little THANKS to state legislators who authored new tobacco bills that became laws.


  • In May, 300+ youth from eight states (including Reality Check youth champions from across New York state) took a virtual stand against The Altria Group for the fifth consecutive year. In place of live action outside the Shareholder’s Meeting in Richmond, Virginia, as the youth have done in prior years, they took their action online. It’s amazing what they created using platforms like Instagram and TikTok to raise their voices and expose Big Tobacco’s lies.

  • When folks in the Kick Butts Collaborative couldn’t hold their previously planned Earth Day Cigarette Butt Pick Up Challenge, they did the next best thing. They social distanced and picked up cigarette butts (the most littered item in the WORLD), as well as disposable vape devices, around their neighborhoods.
  • As of May 18, the sale of flavored vape products ended across New York State, and tobacco sales are banned in pharmacies. As we celebrated this win, we sharpened our focus on additional work needed to continue to reduce the #1 cause of preventable death in the world–cigarette smoking!

  • Kudos to our Tobacco-Free team, and their hardworking  Reality Check youth champions, who helped bring healthier back to  the city parks in Olean, New York.  This month, the  city’s mayor, Bill Aiello. joined Reality Check lead Jonathan Chaffee in hanging smoke free signs.
  • We kicked off Coordinator Camp on September 29th. Below are the  faces of the New York State tobacco control program as they CONNECT, COLLABORATE and COMMUNICATE about how we can engage in making communities places where we can all live, work and grow healthier together.



As we navigate this new time together, know that we’re here to help you. Email us at [email protected] with any thoughts. Thanks, and stay safe and healthy.