Local youth travel to Niagara Falls to join other teens to advocate for a tobacco-free future

Students from Holy Cross Academy, Stockbridge-Valley, Madison, Canastota, Chittenango, and New Life Christian School participated in an Activism Event in Niagara Falls to continue the fight for a tobacco-free future. Pictured from left are Kat Wojsiat, Lauren Hysell, Tatiana Nowakowski, Josh Drake, Riley Hysell, Rachel Mennig, Chesah Matteson, Bailey Foster, Adam Wojsiat, Hailey Bernet and Brennan Hysell.

Local youth travel to Niagara Falls to join other teens to advocate for a tobacco-free future

Local youth traveled to Niagara Falls to join student leaders from that area to prepare for an activism event at Niagara Falls State Park and the Factory Outlets of Niagara Falls to speak out about the billions of dollars of tobacco promotions in places where they and other youth can be influenced by them.

The event is an attempt to bring attention to Kick Butts Day, a national day of activism that is officially celebrated this Wednesday. Kick Butts Day is sponsored by the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids which empowers youth to speak out and stand up to the tobacco industry in an effort to end tobacco use once and for all

Students, representing Reality Check of New York, carried educational posters, wore sandwich boards, shared information and conducted man-on-the-street interviews to send a loud and united message to community leaders: They have Seen Enough Tobacco in stores near their schools. They also asked passers-by to join the 30,000+ New York State citizens in signing a petition to protect kids from tobacco marketing in stores.

According to the U. S. Surgeon General, “advertising and promotional activities by tobacco companies have been shown to cause the onset and continuation of smoking among adolescents and young adults.”

“The average age of a new smoker in New York State is 13,” said Reality Check member Riley Hysell, Madison Central School freshman. “It’s time to wake up to the fact that kids are being marketed to by big tobacco, and it’s time to do something about it.”

Reality Check is New York State’s youth-led movement aimed at exposing the deceptive marketing practices of the tobacco industry.

“Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in New York”, said Heather Bernet, Reality Check Lead Coordinator.  “We also know that tobacco marketing in stores is a primary cause of youth smoking and we’re asking for help from our community leaders across New York State to join with us and declare ‘We’ve Seen Enough’. This generation deserves to grow up free from tobacco industry marketing and promotion.”

Findings on youth tobacco use and tobacco industry marketing in places where children and young adolescents can see them indicate:

*The average age of a new smoker in New York is 13 years old, and 90 percent of adult smokers say they first tried smoking by age 18. 

*The U.S. tobacco industry spent an estimated $9.5 billion on advertising and promotion of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco in 2013. This includes nearly $220 million annually in New York State, or nearly $602,000 a day.

*Stores popular among adolescents contain almost three times more tobacco marketing materials compared to other stores in the same community.

To find out more about visit realitycheckofny.com and sign the petition at seenenoughtobacco.org

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