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April 27, 2022 - 10:59pm
posted by Press Release in Tobacco-free GOW, news, health.

Press release:

Tobacco-Free Genesee, Orleans, Wyoming (TF-GOW) and statewide partners are kicking off the regional and statewide launch of Tobacco Free New York State’s 2022 “It’s Not Just” campaign, intended to educate people across New York State about the tobacco industry’s historically inequitable marketing and promotion of menthol-flavored tobacco products. The It’s Not Just campaign speaks from the youth perspective, blending powerful imagery with direct quotes by tobacco executives to highlight the striking contrast between how the industry views youth and how youth see themselves. It is an extension of the campaign launched in May 2021 to urge the public to take action against the hard-hitting menthol-flavored tobacco product marketing that has targeted and harmed Black communities for decades.

“We know that menthol reinforces sustained cigarette smoking among our youth,” said Andrew Hyland, PhD, Chair of the Department of Health Behavior at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. “The educational component of the ‘It’s Not Just’ campaign, is the best tool to keep young New Yorkers away from menthol products and healthier for their future.”

The tobacco industry tracks the behaviors and preferences of youth under 21 because it sees “today’s teenager as tomorrow’s potential regular customer.” To mask the harshness of smoke, tobacco companies use flavors, like menthol, in their products to make them more appealing to new users, almost all of whom are under 18. In fact, nearly 81 percent of youth who have ever tried tobacco started with a flavored product, and more than half (54 percent) of youth ages 12-17 years who smoke use menthol cigarettes. However, menthol is not just a flavor. It attracts and addicts youth, making it easier for them to start and harder for them to quit. And, it’s not just an injustice, it poses a serious health threat to today’s youth.

Youth who initiate using menthol cigarettes are more likely to become addicted and become long-term daily smokers. Furthermore, nicotine exposure and addiction can prime the adolescent brain for other addictions, including opioid addiction. When New York State ended the sale of flavored e-cigarettes statewide in May 2020, it was a significant step toward reducing youth tobacco use. However, other flavored tobacco products, such as combustible menthol cigarettes, continue to present an obstacle to decreasing tobacco use among young people and underserved populations.

Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States and worldwide.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 5.6 million of today’s Americans younger than 18 will die early from smoking-related illness if the current rate of youth smoking continues. Even more shocking, every adult who dies early due to smoking is replaced by two new young smokers.

Individuals can learn more about how to help fight the injustice of menthol flavored tobacco products at the campaign’s website: NotJustMenthol.org.

Additional statistics:

  • Menthol and tobacco marketing
    • Tobacco companies have a long history of developing and marketing flavored tobacco products as “starter” products that attract kids.
    • Tobacco companies market menthol cigarettes as “smoother” than other cigarettes.
    • Documents from the tobacco industry show that the industry studied smokers’ menthol preferences and manipulated menthol levels to appeal to adolescents and young adults.
    • Research shows that the tobacco industry attracted new smokers by promoting cigarettes with lower menthol content, which is popular among adolescents and young adults.
    • Tobacco companies spend $8.4 billion each year to promote their deadly products, much of which directly reaches and influences kids.
  • Menthol usage and addiction
    • Menthol cigarettes lead to increased smoking initiation among youth and young adults, greater addiction and decreased success in quitting smoking.
    • Menthol cools and numbs the throat, reducing the harshness of cigarette smoke, making menthol cigarettes more appealing to youth.
    • Over 7 out of 10 African American youth ages 12-17 years who smoke use menthol cigarettes.
  • Health impact
    • Menthol cigarettes are not less harmful than other cigarettes, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has found that they are likely a greater risk to public health than non-menthol cigarettes.
    • Researchers estimate that if a menthol ban had gone into effect in 2011, 320,000 smoking-attributed deaths would have been averted by 2050.
    • Menthol cigarette smokers are as likely to experience premature morbidity and mortality as non-menthol cigarette smokers.

Support available for New Yorkers who want to quit

The New York State Smokers' Quitline is a confidential service for all New York State residents who wish to overcome tobacco use, including e-cigarettes. Free offerings include individualized coaching and assistance with quit-planning from highly trained Quit Coaches, text and chat support and free shipping of stop-smoking medications such as nicotine patches or nicotine gum for those 18 and older. Residents of all ages may contact the Quitline for support and educational materials. In addition, the Quitline encourages teens and young adults (ages 13-24) to text “DROPTHEVAPE” to 88709 to join This Is Quitting, a free texting support program for help with quitting vaping. Visit nysmokefree.com anytime for more information or call 1-866-NY-QUITS (1-866-697-8487) seven days a week, beginning at 9 a.m.

Tobacco-Free New York State and Reality Check student groups around the state have worked tirelessly to educate local communities on the tobacco industry’s use of menthol and other flavored tobacco products as a tool to target, attract and addict new smokers. Tobacco-Free New York State, including the Reality Check student youth groups, is part of the NYS Tobacco Control Program.

May 16, 2021 - 4:17pm

Press release:

A new statewide initiative aims to put a spotlight on how the tobacco industry has specifically targeted African American communities for decades with its aggressive marketing of menthol-flavored tobacco products.

The “It’s Not Just” campaign launches regionally and statewide on No Menthol Sunday -- today May 16 -- and is focused on ending the misconception that menthol is just a flavor.

It’s not just a flavor -- it's an injustice, and it’s killing Black Americans.

Smoking-related illnesses are the No. 1 cause of death in the African American community, surpassing all other causes of death, including AIDS, homicide, diabetes and accidents. Overall, 85 percent of African American smokers use menthol cigarettes, compared to 29 percent of white smokers.

The “It’s Not Just” campaign is intended to educate people across New York State about the injustice of menthol-flavored product marketing and promotion. The campaign uses direct language and powerful, emotional imagery of people who represent communities targeted by Big Tobacco.

It describes how menthol is more than a flavor, highlighting hard-hitting facts about the manipulative, aggressive nature of menthol tobacco marketing and its impact on African American communities. 

“It’s no accident that nearly 9 in 10 Black smokers, as well as rural youth, use menthol products, which are easier to smoke and harder to quit,” said Julie Calvert, community engagement coordinator of Tobacco-Free GOW.

“Our goal is to make our community members aware of how the tobacco industry aggressively targets these groups so we can reduce tobacco use and create healthier communities.”

Individuals can learn more about how to help fight the injustice of menthol-flavored tobacco products at the new campaign’s website: NotJustMenthol.org

“With the recent FDA announcement to ban menthol-flavored products, this campaign couldn't be more timely and relevant,” said LaTroya Hester, director of communications, The Center for Black Health & Equity.

“We know that the tobacco industry will fight this decision with the full force of its legal and marketing power, but we're not intimidated. The Center is excited about the launch of this campaign, and we are so honored to contribute to much-needed counter-messaging.”

While the tobacco industry has traditionally targeted Black communities with the marketing of menthol products, menthol is also a driver of youth initiation.

When New York State ended the sale of flavored e-cigarettes statewide in May 2020, it was a significant step toward reducing youth tobacco use. However, other flavored tobacco products, such as menthol cigarettes, continue to present an obstacle to decreasing tobacco use among young people and underserved populations.

Additional statistics:

  • Menthol marketing
    • Menthol use among Black communities is a direct result of the tobacco industry's marketing practices and product manipulation.
    • Historically, the marketing and promotion of menthol cigarettes have been targeted heavily toward African Americans through culturally tailored advertising and messages.
    • Menthol products are given more shelf space in retail outlets within African American and other minority neighborhoods.
    • In addition to being heavily advertised and widely available, certain tobacco products have been found to be priced lower in African American communities, making them more appealing, particularly to price-sensitive youth.
  • Menthol usage 
    • Ninety-three percent of Black smokers started by using menthol cigarettes.
    • More than seven out of 10 African American youth ages 12-17 years who smoke use menthol cigarettes.
    • Research indicates that menthol makes smoking easier to start and harder to quit. 
    • Tobacco companies add menthol to make cigarettes seem less harsh and more appealing to new smokers and young people.
    • Tobacco companies market menthol cigarettes as “smoother” than other cigarettes.
    • Menthol in cigarettes creates a cooling sensation in the throat and airways when the user inhales.
  • Health impact
    • Menthol cigarettes are not less harmful than other cigarettes and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has found that they are likely a greater risk to public health than non-menthol cigarettes.
    • Black smokers smoke less but die of heart attacks, strokes and other causes linked to tobacco use at higher rates than white smokers.

Support available for New Yorkers who want to quit

For help quitting smoking or vaping, including free nicotine replacement therapy for eligible residents, individuals can contact a health care provider, and call the New York State Smokers’ Quitline at 1-866-NY-QUITS or visit: nysmokefree.com.

Effective medications and counseling are covered by Medicaid and most insurance programs. 

Tobacco Free New York State and Reality Check student groups around the state have worked tirelessly to educate local communities on the tobacco industry’s use of menthol and other flavored tobacco products as a tool to target, attract and addict new smokers. Tobacco Free New York State, including the Reality Check student youth groups, is part of the NYS Tobacco Control Program.

About Tobacco-Free GOW

The New York State Department of Health, Bureau of Tobacco Control funds Tobacco-Free GOW to increase support for New York State’s tobacco-free norm through youth action and community engagement. Efforts are evidence-based, policy-driven, and cost-effective approaches that decrease youth tobacco use, motivate adult smokers to quit, and eliminate exposure to secondhand smoke. The program is administered by Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center.

March 1, 2021 - 2:50pm

Press release:

To honor #BlackHistoryMonth, students gather on Instagram Live to discuss the film “42” as well as tobacco use in movies and community health disparities.

A virtual movie event on “42,” The Jackie Robinson Story, spurred a lively Instagram Live discussion on multiple tobacco issues affecting our community and nation. 

On Feb. 25, Reality Check youth from Genesee County joined 100+ youth and community members from across New York State to honor #BlackHistoryMonth, as well as discuss the baseball movie and how it hits a home run on tobacco-related topics including: Tobacco use in movies; Big Tobacco’s targeted advertising; health disparities: and smokeless tobacco use.

The youth had a three-day window, from Feb. 23-25, to watch the movie independently, or as part of a group watch party, to prepare for the live discussion. The goal was to share what they learned with peers and members of the community to help reduce tobacco product use in their regions and beyond.

Tobacco Use in Movies

“42” includes several smoking scenes, particularly cigar smoking. This gave Reality Check leaders guiding the discussion the opportunity to educate youth on important facts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that were also shared via social media channels the week preceding the event.

  • Smoking in movies recruits 187,000 new teen smokers every year; and
  • PG-13 films account for nearly two-thirds of the smoking scenes youth see on the big screen.

“The more kids see smoking on screen, the more likely they are to smoke,” said Brittany Bozzer, Reality Check coordinator at Tobacco-Free Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties (TF-GOW).

“There’s no excuse for having smoking in movies that are rated to be sold to kids; we suggest giving an R rating to movies that include tobacco use.” 

According to Bozzer, giving an R rating to future movies with smoking would be expected to reduce the number of teen smokers by nearly 1 in 5, preventing up to 1 million deaths from smoking among children alive today.

Black History Month

Since “42” tells the story of the American legend Jackie Robinson, the first African American Major League Baseball player, the movie event and discussion included the issue of racial health disparities in our communities.

For more than 60 years, the tobacco industry has been a part of the problem by deliberately targeting the Black community with menthol cigarettes, which are more addictive, easier for kids to start using and harder for smokers to quit than other cigarettes.

To target Black demographics, the tobacco company Chesterfield used Jackie Robinson in cigarette ads in the 1950s. Athletes were desirable endorsers for cigarettes because they were perceived as healthier than the average citizen.

Teens also discussed how the tobacco industry profited while destroying Black lives and health. In the 1950s, less than 10 percent of Black smokers used menthol cigarettes. Today, 85 percent of Black smokers smoke menthol cigarettes.

Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death among Black Americans. It claims 45,000 Black lives each year, and Black Americans die at higher rates than other groups from tobacco-related diseases such as cancer, heart disease and stroke.

Baseball and Chewing Tobacco

A final discussion topic of “42” and the Instagram Live event was Through With Chew week, a national, weeklong event meant to educate people about the dangers of smokeless tobacco, also known as chew, which has been used by professional athletes for decades.

The week of awareness included the Great American Spit Out on Feb. 25 this year, the day tobacco users across America aim to quit.

ABOUT REALITY CHECK 

It is a youth led movement in New York State that empowers youth to become leaders in their communities in exposing what they see as the manipulative and deceptive marketing tactics of the tobacco industry. The organization’s members create change in their communities through grassroots mobilization and education.

Reality Check groups work in their communities by trying to limit the exposure of tobacco marketing in stores, help make smoke/vape-free public, work, and housing spaces, and limiting the exposure to smoking/vaping in movies.

These initiatives are to help discourage young people from becoming new daily smokers and encourage current smokers to quit. Reality Check GOW is a program of Tobacco-Free GOW and Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center.

More information can be found at http://www.realitycheckofny.com and http://www.tobaccofreenys.com

May 19, 2020 - 12:57pm

UPDATED 8:53 p.m. with statement from Paul Pettit, director of Public Health for Genesee and Orleans counties.*

From Tobacco-free GOW:

The sale of flavored e-cigarettes ended in New York State on Monday, May 18, as did the sale of all tobacco products in pharmacies. These are huge steps forward in helping New Yorkers live free from nicotine addiction.

* “We are pleased that this new law has taken effect,” said Paul Pettit, director of the Genesee and Orleans County Health departments. “The timing is excellent with COVID-19 impacting the health of so many who have underlying health issues, which may have been brought on due to health issues related to smoking and vaping.”

The new laws were passed as part of the state’s fiscal year 2021 budget. New York becomes the second state in the nation to restrict the sale of tobacco products in pharmacies. 

“These policies are all part of a full court press, said Andrew Hyland, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Health Behavior and head of Tobacco Control Programs at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. “They are part of long-standing efforts by New York State to change the social norms about tobacco by making products less appealing and less accessible.

"The New York State Smokers Quitline continues to be there for smokers looking to quit (1-866-NY-QUITS, www.nysmokefree.com.)”

Research shows that the flavors in e-cigarettes attract kids and the nicotine addicts them. Nearly 40 percent of high school seniors in New York State use e-cigarettes, also referred to as “vaping,” and 27 percent of all high school youth vape.

This new law ending the sale of flavored e-cigarettes in New York State will protect kids from a lifetime of nicotine addiction.

February 11, 2020 - 4:54pm

Submitted photo and press release:

Tobacco-Free Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties (TF-GOW) and Reality Check youth champions from Notre Dame High School were at the New York Capitol on Feb. 4, talking with lawmakers about the success of the state’s Tobacco Control Program.

Notre Dame freshman Morgan Wahl, junior Benjamin Streeter, and senior Maddie Payton joined a pair of Reality Check peers from Warsaw High School in the Albany rally, Shelby Pietron and Katie Pietron. Brittany Bozzer, Reality Check coordinator at TF-GOW attended, too.

They focused their messaging on lowering the average smoking rate to 12.8 percent and about the unmet needs in tobacco control efforts, particularly among youth and certain communities. They met with Assemblyman Stephen Hawley and Assemblyman David DiPietro.

During legislative meetings, the youth stressed that cigarette smoking among high school youth statewide declined 82 percent between 2000 and 2018, but e-cigarette use by high schoolers continues to rise, now at 27 percent. In contrast, only 3.8 percent of adult New Yorkers use e-cigarettes. Additionally, nearly 40 percent 12th-graders use e-cigarettes statewide.

Research shows that youth who use e-cigarettes are four times more likely to start smoking conventional cigarettes than their peers who do not vape.

“Successfully reducing the average adult smoking rate to 12.8 percent in New York State is a significant achievement, but new and emerging nicotine products—like e-cigarettes—could reverse the substantial gains we’ve made in reducing smoking,” Bozzer said.

“We know that marketing attracts youth to e-cigarettes, and flavors are what gets them to try them. Nicotine is what keeps them addicted.”

Higher smoking rates among certain communities

New Yorkers with low education, low income and reporting frequent mental distress smoke at higher rates than the state average.

“Although the average smoking rate is down, cigarette smoking rates among certain communities are considerably higher than average," Bozzer said. "For example, throughout New York State, 25.5 percent of adults reporting frequent mental distress smoke cigarettes, as do 20 percent of those with less than a high school education and nearly 20 percent of those with an annual household income of less than $25,000.

“Income, education, and mental health status shouldn’t determine smoking rates, but they do, and our program has a local and statewide program in place to further tobacco-free norms."

While at the Capitol, the Notre Dame youth talked with lawmakers about work being done in their communities and provided an interactive display in The Well of the Legislative Office Building, revealing the true facts behind Big Tobacco’s misleading marketing.

More Facts: The Costs of Tobacco Use in New York State

  • Annual health care costs directly caused by smoking in the state are $10.39 billion;
  • This expense results in a tax burden of $1,410 for each household every year;
  • There are 28,200 deaths in New York State each year due to smoking, and thousands who are living with illnesses related to tobacco use;
  • The CDC recommends a $203 million annual investment in New York State’s Tobacco Control Program; the state’s investment is $39 million.

Reality Check New York empowers youth to become leaders in their community in exposing what they see as the manipulative and deceptive marketing tactics of the tobacco industry.

The organization’s members produce change in their communities through grassroots mobilization and education. Reality Check in this area is affiliated with Tobacco-Free Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming Counties (TF-GOW) program managed by Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The NYS Tobacco Control Program is made up of a network of statewide contractors who work on Advancing Tobacco-Free Communities, which includes Community Engagement and Reality Check, the Health Systems for a Tobacco-Free New York, the NYS Smokers’ Quitline and Surveillance and Research.

Their efforts are leading the way toward a tobacco-free society. For more information, visit:

Photo: Back row (from left) Maddie Payton, Benjamin Streeter, as well as Notre Dame freshman Morgan Wahl (kneeling in front) took in the grandeur of the New York State Senate Chambers on their recent trip to educate lawmakers at the NYS Capitol. Earlier that day, they talked with Assemblyman David DiPietro, right, about tobacco control work being done in their communities and revealed the true facts behind Big Tobacco’s misleading marketing. Also pictured (middle row, from left) are Warsaw High School students Shelby Pietron, Katie Pietron, and Brittany Bozzer, Reality Check coordinator at TF-GOW.

October 16, 2019 - 3:47pm

("JUUL gets our goat, too!" says Dot.)

Submitted photo and press release:

As part of Truth Initiative’s National Day of Action, Reality Check high school champions from Warsaw in Wyoming County and Notre Dame in Batavia took action on Friday, Oct. 11, with a Safari tour and rally at Hidden Valley Safari Adventure in Varysburg titled “Animals Against Human Testing.” 

Just as humans speak out when companies test their products on animals, the Reality Check students "interviewed zebras, deer, geese – and even a camel named Randy – to get their support." To a critter, they all came out in favor of telling JUUL that their pod-based vaping devices and flavor pods present unknown health risks and are not safe for testing on humans. 

While mingling with their friends from another species, the teens also promoted “This Is Quitting,” the first-of-its-kind text-to-quit-vaping service that gives youth and young adults the motivation and support they need to ditch JUUL and other e-cigarettes.

The Safari continued on social media, as Warsaw and Notre Dame youth took selfies and videos with their new animal friends and posted them on social media using Truth Instagram stickers and the hashtag #DontTestOnHumans.

As cases of lung disease and death resulting from the vaping epidemic continue to sweep across the nation, including the recent death of a 17-year-old male in Bronx – the state’s first vaping-related fatality -- Reality Check youth and their adult leaders wanted more than ever to take a stand against JUUL and vaping.

“Truth Initiative has a long history of calling out Big Tobacco for its deadly exploits, and Tested on Humans is the latest example which exposes just how little is known about the long-term health effects of e-cigarettes,” said Brittany Bozzer, Reality Check Youth Engagement coordinator of Tobacco-Free Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties (TF-GOW).

“We join them in delivering a clear message to JUUL and the entire tobacco industry: the safety and well-being of our region’s youth is not for sale.”

About Truth Initiative                                                                    

Truth Initiative is America’s largest nonprofit public health organization dedicated to making tobacco use a thing of the past. Their mission is clear: achieve a culture where all youth and young adults reject tobacco.

About Reality Check

Reality Check empowers youth to become leaders in their communities in exposing what they see as the manipulative and deceptive marketing tactics of the tobacco industry. The organization’s members produce change in their communities through grassroots mobilization and education.

Efforts are evidence-based, policy-driven, and cost-effective approaches that decrease youth tobacco use, motivate adult smokers to quit, and eliminate exposure to secondhand smoke. Reality Check in this area is affiliated with Tobacco-Free GOW and Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center.

July 17, 2019 - 5:45pm
posted by Billie Owens in Tobacco-free GOW, news.

Press release:

For the last five years, the Tobacco-Free Genesee, Livingston, Orleans and Wyoming Program (Tobacco Free-GLOW), has worked with community leaders and youth champions to help reduce tobacco use in all four counties.

Due to a contract realignment placing Livingston County under the direction of SHAC -- the Smoking & Health Action Coalition of Monroe County, the organization has launched its next five-year contract with a new name: Tobacco-Free GOW.

The contract from the New York State Department of Health, Bureau of Tobacco Control is one of two contracts awarded to Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center and will be administered under the direction of Anthony Billoni.

The Roswell Park tobacco-free programs support efforts to locally educate community stakeholders and youth in changing norms that lead to ending tobacco use among adults and children. Tobacco Free-GOW will continue to be operated by Community Engagement coordinator Julie Calvert and Reality Check Youth Engagement coordinator Brittany Bozzer.

“With their extensive contacts and experience in tobacco control, Julie and Brittany will be local leaders as we strive to create healthier communities in Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties,” said Program Director Billoni.

“I’m excited to continue my work in tobacco control for another five years andlook forward to engaging local community leaders and the public to strengthen tobacco-related policies that prevent and reduce tobacco use,” Calvert said.“We know that our state partner, SHAC, will serve the people of Livingston County with the same passion and commitment that we extended.”

Bozzer added, “I have been so privileged to be involved with the many successes that the tobacco control program has had over the last few years. My role in youth engagement helps me focus on creating a tobacco-free generation, a goal that will help save lives.”

The Tobacco-Free Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany Program also will be administered by Roswell Park through five-year contracts from NYS Department of Health, Bureau of Tobacco Control. The Southern Tier program is under the operation of Community Engagement coordinator Ken Dahlgren and Reality Check Youth Engagement coordinator Jonathan Chaffee.

Andrew Hyland, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Health Behavior at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, added, “Roswell Park has a long history of leading national and regional tobacco control efforts. These contracts provide an opportunity to continue those efforts in an efficient way that employs local leaders as they strive to prevent youth smoking and create tobacco-free communities throughout Western New York.”

The primary goals of the tobacco control programs are to:

  • Reduce the impact of retail tobacco marketing on youth by educating communities about the manipulative marketing tactics of the tobacco industry.
  • Establish tobacco-free community norms through clean outdoor air policies by working with communities to create more smoke-free parks, playgrounds and beaches.
  • Lessen secondhand smoke exposure by working with landlords and tenants to implement smoke-free housing policies in multi-unit dwellings.
  • Diminish tobacco imagery in youth-rated movies by working for change in the rating system to require an R rating for movies that contain smoking imagery.
  • Decrease tobacco industry presence on social media by working with stakeholders and internet sites to enact and adhere to policies that protect youth from tobacco imagery.

All counties in New York State now have the resources of a community engagement program and a Reality Check youth action program through the Bureau of Tobacco Control. These contracts build on previous tobacco control funded work which supports the region’s public health efforts and provides more comprehensive programing across the state.

The New York State Department of Health, Bureau of Tobacco Control funds Tobacco-Free GOW to increase support for New York State’s tobacco-free norm through youth action and community engagement. Efforts are evidence-based, policy-driven, and cost-effective approaches that decrease youth tobacco use, motivate adult smokers to quit, and eliminate exposure to secondhand smoke. The program is administered by Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center.

May 20, 2019 - 3:21pm

Press release:

A total of 120 teen leaders from New York State, including six from St. Joseph Catholic School and Notre Dame High School in Batavia, targeted Altria Group executives and shareholders on Thursday, May 16th, with an anti-tobacco, anti-nicotine message for the fourth consecutive year.

Their actions, centered outside the Richmond Convention Center in Richmond, Va., and areas nearby, focused on why the tobacco giant baited consumers and public health officials with the promise of withdrawing pod-based nicotine products from the market in order to combat teen vaping use, only to invest billions in an e-cigarette company.

“Altria blamed nicotine pods and fruity flavors for fueling a surge in teen vaping,” said Brittany Bozzer, coordinator of the Reality Check program of Tobacco-Free GLOW. “If that’s the case, then why did they invest in Juul, the company that made these types of e-cigarettes so popular?”

Altria Group poured $12.8 billion into the e-cigarette company Juul Labs. This investment will allow Juul products to be displayed alongside regular cigarettes in the nation’s retail outlets, a combination that undercuts earlier promises Altria made with former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb to clamp down on the youth vaping “epidemic.”

“Despite what they say, Altria spends billions marketing their deadly products right in front of us, first cigarettes and now Juul,” said Krysta Hansen, a Notre Dame High School sophomore and Reality Check champion.

“Their goal is to create a new generation of customers—just in a different product. Enough is enough, already!”

The demonstrating teens represent Reality Check of New York and some were dressed in waders and carried fishing poles with a fresh catch of Juul nicotine pods and Marlboro cigarettes dangling from them.

Eight Reality Check teens and two youth leaders were given shareholder proxy tickets and went inside the meeting to address corporate tobacco executives and ask questions.

Some youths took their stories right to the biggest fish – the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Altria Group, Howard Willard.

They want Altria executives, as well as the entire tobacco industry, to know that they won’t be “Fuuled” by Big Tobacco investment in Juul and will continue to carry out the awareness-raising work they start in Richmond in their communities back home.

Public health officials and youth leaders for Reality Check, who have successfully fought to eliminate youth-attracting marketing tactics like colorful packaging and candy flavors in cigarettes through the years, see this as their next big battle to reduce teen tobacco use.

Studies show that kids who shop in stores with tobacco marketing, such as gas stations and convenience stores, are 64 percent more likely to start smoking than their friends who don’t.

Reeling in more information:

Findings on youth tobacco use and tobacco industry marketing in places where children and young adolescents can see it 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.

Last week's Altria shareholders demonstration was a joint effort between Reality Check NY, No Limits of Nebraska, and Counter Tools of Chapel Hill, N.C., a nonprofit organization that provides training to public health workers who are working on point-of-sale tobacco control.

Reality Check is a teen-led, adult-run program that seeks to prevent and decrease tobacco use among young people throughout New York State.

In preparation for demonstrating on Thursday, the Reality Check youth spent all day Wednesday learning about tobacco control policies; how the tobacco industry contracts with retailers; and how they can stand up, speak out and make a difference in the fight against Big Tobacco.

For more information about Reality Check, visit realitycheckofny.org.

The New York State Department of Health, Bureau of Tobacco Control funds Tobacco-Free GLOW to increase support for New York State’s tobacco-free norm through youth action and community engagement. Efforts are evidence-based, policy-driven, and cost-effective approaches that decrease youth tobacco use, motivate adult smokers to quit, and eliminate exposure to secondhand smoke.

July 20, 2018 - 2:01pm

Submitted photos and press release:

Notre Dame High School sophomores Benjamin Streeter and Krysta Hansen, as well as junior Maddie Payton -- local leaders in exposing what they see as the manipulative and deceptive marketing tactics of the tobacco industry -- have just returned from the annual Reality Check Youth Summit at Cazenovia College in Central New York.

During leadership workshops and teambuilding exercises with 150 other youth from around the state they made plans for raising awareness in their own communities about the impact tobacco marketing has on youth.

“The average age of a new smoker in New York is just 13 years old, and no one wants to see a kid start smoking,” Maddie said.

“It seems like tobacco companies are trying to deceive kids with packaging that looks like candy and thousands of flavors that appeal to kids like strawberry and bubble gum,” Krysta said.“The more kids see tobacco the more likely they are to start smoking. And we’re here to say we’ve seen enough tobacco in our communities.”

“Tobacco companies put most of their marketing in stores where 75 percent of teens shop at least once a week,” Benjamin said. “We’re speaking out in our communities and all across the state to protect youth from tobacco marketing and the dangers of tobacco use.”

Youth Demonstrated How Bright Colors, Tobacco Displays Appeal to Kids

During the Youth Summit, Reality Check members demonstrated how they believe tobacco companies’ deceptive marketing draws kids to tobacco products, using large displays of what would normally be considered kid-friendly items including large cutouts of:

  • A kids’ birthday cake with cigarettes for candles, and a banner reading “The average age of a new smoker is 13”;
  • A crayon box with cigarettes instead of crayons that reflect startling statistics about tobacco marketing and youth smoking;
  • A claw machine filled with packs of cigarettes instead of stuffed animals and toys;
  • An ice cream truck promoting tobacco product sales rather than ice cream sales; and
  • Open packs of cigarettes on the blades of a working 8’ tall x 5’ wide mini-golf windmill.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At each demonstration, Reality Check youth explained how the supposed kid-friendly exhibits grab the attention of passersby just as the tobacco industry is grabbing youth’s attention with tobacco marketing in stores.

Reality Check empowers youth to become leaders in their communities in exposing what they see as the manipulative and deceptive marketing tactics of the tobacco industry.

The organization’s members produce change in their communities through grassroots mobilization and education.

Reality Check in this area is affiliated with Tobacco-Free Genesee, Livingston, Orleans and Wyoming counties (TF-GLOW).

#SeenEnoughTobacco is an online campaign with the goal of safeguarding children from the billions of dollars of hard-hitting tobacco promotions in places where children see them.

Parents, community leaders and others interested in protecting youth are encouraged to learn more at SeenEnoughTobacco.org.

February 8, 2018 - 2:57pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Steve Hawley, Tobacco-free GOW, batavia, Notre Dame, news.

glowtobaccohawley2018.jpg

Photo and info submitted by Tobacco Free GLOW.

Press release:

Tobacco use is the number one preventable cause of death and illness in New York State. Tobacco control representatives from Tobacco-Free GLOW Julie Calvert, Brittany Bozzer, Ben Streeter and Krysta Hansen, recently met with Assemblyman Steve Hawley at the Capitol in Albany to discuss the important tobacco control work being done in the GLOW region to save lives. 

Ben Streeter and Krysta Hansen are students at Notre Dame High School.

November 15, 2017 - 9:41am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Tobacco-free GOW, news.

Press release:

We are encouraging the Genesee, Livingston, Orleans, and Wyoming communities to commit or recommit to healthy, tobacco-free lives by participating in the American Cancer Society Great American Smoke out on Nov. 16.

“The most important thing smokers can do to improve their health is to quit cigarettes and other forms of Combustible tobacco,” said Cindy Perry, director of Health Education, Wellness, and Outreach at Community Partners. “As leaders in promoting health and wellness, we are showing our support for people who take those first steps toward making a plan to quit.”

Tobacco use is the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the United States. About half of all Americans who keep smoking will die because of the habit. Each year more than 480,000 people in the United States die from illnesses related to tobacco use. This means smoking causes about 1 out of 5 deaths in the United States annually.

According to Patricia Crowley, Drug-Free Coalition of Orleans project director, “tobacco is one of the strongest addictions one can have, about 40 million American adults still smoke. We used to encourage smokers to quit cold turkey on a single day. However, current evidence shows that quitting is a process. It starts with a plan, often takes time and requires a lot of support.”

On Nov. 16th, Tobacco Free GLOW is partnering with local organizations to raise awareness and encourage people to contact the NYS Quitline at 1-866-697-8487, which is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to provide support as people make their plan to quit.

Medina Memorial Hospital will have a tobacco cessation resource table set up in the lobby between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. for the Orleans County communities. Wyoming County Partners For Prevention has invited tobacco control specialists from Roswell Park Cancer Institute to provide cessation education to community partners at Valley Chapel Church between 10:30 a.m. and noon.

“Partners For Prevention wants to help the people in our community to be healthy and happy,” said Lydia Dziedzic, Wyoming County Partners For Prevention community educator. “During this year’s Great American Smoke-out, we hope everyone will join us – and encourage their friends, family, and colleagues to join us – in committing or recommitting to year-around, tobacco-free lives.”

March 1, 2017 - 3:50pm
posted by Billie Owens in Le Roy, Announcements, Tobacco-free GOW.

Press release:

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.

New York State (NYS) Tobacco Control Programs (TCP) have been proven to reduce youth smoking and help current smokers quit, which saves lives and millions of state tax dollars. However, higher rates of smoking persist among individuals with less than a high school education (22.4 percent), income less than $25,000 a year (22.2 percent) and those with poor mental health (27.2 percent).

“We’ve made great strides in combatting 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 Shelly Wolanske, Youth Engagement Coordinator at Tobacco-Free Genesee, Livingston, Orleans and Wyoming counties. (GLOW).

That’s the message Tobacco-Free GLOW and Reality Check youth delivered last month to state lawmakers in Albany. Participating in the legislative visits were: Xandria Jackson, Chloe Schmitter, Melissa Park, Kailie DeWald and Paula Hernandez, all students at LeRoy Junior-Senior High School. They met with Senator Michael Ranzenhofer, Assemblyman Mike Norris and Assemblyman Stephen Hawley.

Annually, the 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. They described the valuable work being done in the GLOW region to reduce smoking rates and to keep youth from starting smoking, which begins at 13 years old, on average.

October 23, 2015 - 11:40am
posted by Billie Owens in Tobacco-free GOW, Genesee SADD, Halloween.

(Photo submitted by Kevin J. Keenan, community engagement coordinator for Tobacco-Free GLOW)

Press release:

Genesee SADD Council students took part in an awareness activity at BOCES earlier this week centering around Halloween and tobacco-prevention initiatives. They want to advance tobacco-free communities.

Roswell Park Cancer Institute established a tobacco-free community outreach program in 1993 and today administers three programs in Western New York: Tobacco-Free Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany (CCA); Tobacco-Free Genesee, Livingston, Orleans and Wyoming (GLOW) and Tobacco-Free Erie-Niagara (EN). Each locally based program is funded by the New York State Department of Health/Bureau of Tobacco Control.

Its goals are to prevent youth tobacco use through the Reality Check Youth program; raise awareness about tobacco control policies; and to reduce tobacco use among adults across this region and in New York State.

Reduce Tobacco Marketing Point of Sale: Product marketing and price promotion aimed at youth are proven causes of youth tobacco use. Much of this marketing occurs at the point of sale (POS) in the retail environment and may be largely unnoticed by adults.

Increase Tobacco-Free Outdoor Areas: Tobacco use in outdoor areas such as parks, playgrounds, beaches and workplaces is dangerous to the environment and presents a health risk to non-smoking adults and children.

Expand Tobacco-Free Multi-Unit Housing: Smoke-free housing protecting residents’ health by reducing exposure to secondhand smoke. Property managers benefit from reduced maintenance costs and decreased fire risks.

Decrease Tobacco Use Imagery: Research shows that smoking in movies and other media impacts teen perceptions of smoking norms and raises the likelihood of youth initiation.

Tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of death and disease in New York.

Adult Smoking Rates

  • Genesee: 18.7 percent
  • Livingston: 16.9 percent
  • Orleans: 29.9 percent
  • Wyoming: 22.3 percent

*Source:

New York State Department of Health – based on the most recent data (July 2009-June 2009)

http://bit.ly/13A3VEw

October 24, 2014 - 2:07pm
posted by Billie Owens in Tobacco-free GOW.

Tobacco-Free Genesee, Livingston, Orleans, and Wyoming Program (Tobacco-Free GLOW) has opened an office in Batavia to begin its five-year contract with first-year funding of $325,000. The contract from the New York State Department of Health, Bureau of Tobacco Control is one of three contracts awarded to Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) and will be administered under the direction of Anthony Billoni.

The Roswell Park tobacco-free programs support efforts to locally engage community stakeholders and youth in changing policies and norms about tobacco and tobacco use. Tobacco-Free GLOW will be operated by Community Engagement coordinator Kevin Keenan and Reality Check Youth Engagement coordinator Angela DiRosa.

"With their extensive contacts and experience in tobacco control, Kevin and Angela will be local leaders as we strive to create healthier communities in Genesee, Livingston, Orleans, and Wyoming counties," Billoni said.

"I'm excited to continue my work in tobacco control and look forward to engaging local community leaders and the public to strengthen tobacco-related policies that prevent and reduce tobacco use," Keenan said.

DiRosa, a lifelong resident of Genesee County, added, "I have been so privileged to be involved with the many successes that the tobacco control program has had over the last several years. This is a unique opportunity to help my home community minimize the influence of tobacco so our friends and families can live in healthier lives."

The Tobacco-Free Erie-Niagara (TF-EN) Program and the Tobacco-Free Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany Program (TF-CCA) also will be administered by Roswell Park through five-year contracts from NYS Department of Health, Bureau of Tobacco Control.

Andrew Hyland, Ph.D, chair of the Department of Health Behavior at RPCI said "Roswell Park has a long history of leading national and regional tobacco control efforts. These contracts provide an opportunity to continue those efforts in an efficient way that employs local leaders as they strive to prevent youth smoking and create tobacco-free communities throughout Western New York."
 
The primary goals of the tobacco control programs are to:

  • Reduce the impact of retail tobacco marketing on youth by educating communities about the manipulative marketing tactics of the tobacco industry;
  • Establish tobacco-free community norms through clean outdoor air policies by working with communities to create more smoke-free parks, playgrounds and beaches;
  • Lessen secondhand smoke exposure by working with landlords and tenants to implement smoke-free housing policies in multi-unit dwellings.
  • Diminish tobacco imagery in youth-rated movies by working for change in the rating system to require an R rating for movies that contain smoking imagery.
  • Decrease tobacco-industry presence on social media by working with stakeholders and internet sites to enact and adhere to policies that protect youth from tobacco imagery.

All counties in New York State now have the resources of a community engagement program and a Reality Check youth action program through the Bureau of Tobacco Control. These contracts build on previous tobacco control funded work which supports the region's public health efforts and provides more comprehensive programing across the state.

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