By Gretchen Galley


The topic of the week has become discussed ad nauseum: resolutions for 2016. So consider this new twist for those of us who are resolution-challenged. If you normally have trouble sticking to your New Year’s resolutions, psychologists at University of California, Irvine, have found that asking questions and then answering them, instead of making statements, is one key to sticking with your promises.

For example, we are more likely to actually exercise more if we ask ourselves “Will I exercise more?” and then say, “Yes,” instead of just telling ourselves “I will exercise more.” The researchers found that people tend to be more successful in changing their behaviors when they pose their goals as questions instead of statements, according to the study.

Researchers also say that making resolutions with friends or co-workers are more effective because committing to goals and achieving them together is the discipline we need to stay focused.

What kind of resolutions are we making and sharing at TFWNY, you ask? Here are some—in the form of questions, of course, that will bring us closer as a tobacco-fighting team and make Western New York a healthier, happier place.

Will we continue to meet with elected officials and advocates in protecting all Western New York citizens from in-store tobacco marketing? Yes. We’ll rally our Reality Check teens to create signs declaring “We’ve Seen Enough Tobacco.” We’ll encourage them to lead walks with elected officials to show them how many tobacco retailers are located near schools. We’ll educate, empower and engage our communities until citizens of all ages in our region will be unhappy, perhaps even outraged, with how Big Tobacco continues to target them to become and stay addicted to their deadly products.

Will we help bring more smoke-free housing to Cattaraugus and Allegany counties, mirroring the success we’ve had in Chautauqua? Yup. Because cigarette smoke drifts from apartment to apartment, creating unhealthy living conditions for everyone in the building. There is no constitutional right to smoke, but we all deserve the right to breathe clean air in our homes. To make sure this happens, we’ll continue to work with landlords, managers, property owners and tenants throughout Western New York.

Will we create more tobacco-free outdoor spaces in 2016? You bet we will. Beaches. Ball fields. Playgrounds. College campuses. We’ll work on clearing the air in more outdoor places, for all to enjoy. Because secondhand smoke drifting through our clean air is dangerous. And who really wants smoke blowing in their face while enjoying an outdoor picnic or watching the waves roll by?

Will we make smoking in the media a bigger focus? Absolutely. Recent data shows that video games are the next tobacco frontier being targeted by Big Tobacco. Games popular with children and teens often feature characters who smoke even though few packages carry warnings about tobacco-related content. We promise to work harder and not let this tobacco imagery fly under the radar of tobacco control. What’s more, we’ll keep working with our Reality Check youth, sharing with them the billions of dollars the tobacco industry spends each year making their product look cool and glamorous in in stores, magazines online and in movies.

Most smokers try tobacco for the first time before they reach adulthood, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Each day in the U.S. alone, more than 3,800 youth 18 and younger smoke their first cigarette, the CDC reports. While many factors can influence this choice, video games and other mass media showing tobacco in a favorable light can make this seem acceptable. Our answer is NOT ACCEPTABLE.

There you have it, what we resolve for 2016. Our hope is that working together on all these issues will help us resolve all the tobacco problems that damage our health, our environment, our world.