Category: Blog

Albany County Legislature Votes “YES!” to Raise Legal Age for Tobacco Sales to 21!

By on May 10th, 2016


Last night in a 24-13 vote, the Albany County Legislature voted to increase the legal minimum age for the sale of tobacco products to 21, following in the footsteps of more than 150 cities in ten states, including New York City, the New York State counties of Chautauqua and Suffolk, and the states of Hawaii and California.

Thank you to the Albany County Legislature for voting “Yes” to a proven community health strategy that will reduce youth smoking.

Learn more about T-21 at And follow local coverage of Albany County here:
Albany Times Union

Make your opinion matter on April 26!

By on April 13th, 2016


Mark your calendars for Tuesday, April 26, 2016 @ 7:15pm and share your views on an Albany County law to raise the minimum legal age for sales of tobacco products to 21.

The Albany County Legislature will hold a public hearing in the Legislative Chambers, Albany County Courthouse, Eagle Street, Albany, NY on Local Law C for 2016 (announcement here). A copy of the proposed law can be viewed here.

If you are a resident of Albany County or work in an organization that serves Albany County residents, you have an opportunity to be heard. Have an opinion? April 26th would be a good time to share it. If you’re unable to attend the public hearing, you can submit your comments in writing to the Clerk of the Legislature at:

Office of the Albany County Legislature
Clerk of the Legislature
Harold L. Joyce Albany County Office Building
112 State St., Room 710
Albany, NY    12207

For additional information, you can access the Public Health and Tobacco Policy Center fact sheet on Tobacco-21 here

Planned Parenthood Mohawk Hudson named Tobacco-Free Champion

By on January 27th, 2016

Planned Parenthood Mohawk Hudson CEO Kim Atkins (far left) and Board Chair Joyce Elliott (far right) accept Champion award along with members of PPMH's Tobacco-Free Committee including (L-R) Emma Enness, Bryan Beckman,  Kristin Fiato-King, Larry Brodsky, Gail Pliscofsky, and Laura Gallery.

Congratulations to Planned Parenthood Mohawk Hudson (PPMH) for being named a New York State 2015 Tobacco-Free Community Champion. As of January 1, 2016, all PPMH properties became tobacco-free, including ten health clinics located in eight NYS counties, a decision that promotes tobacco-free living and health equity for their employees and patients.

The success of our tobacco-free efforts relies on partners like PPMH to help build healthy, tobacco-free communities where people live, learn, work and play. Planned Parenthood Mohawk Hudson provides quality and comprehensive reproductive health care to more than 20,000 men and women every year. In combination with the education and training programs PPMH provides to diverse groups, their community reach is extensive and profound. By going tobacco-free, PPMH prevents harmful secondhand smoke exposure, raises awareness of the impact of tobacco use on health, and makes it easier for tobacco users who want to quit to do so successfully, an important step in promoting health equity.

Pictured in the photo: Planned Parenthood Mohawk Hudson CEO Kim Atkins (far left) and Board Chair Joyce Elliott (far right) accept Champion award along with members of PPMH’s Tobacco-Free Committee including (L-R) Emma Enness, Bryan Beckman,  Kristin Fiato-King, Larry Brodsky, Gail Pliscofsky, and Laura Gallery.

The Community Champion distinction was awarded on behalf of five Advancing Tobacco-Free Communities contractors in the communities in which the PPMH clinics and other properties are located: The Capital District Tobacco-Free Coalition (Albany, Rensselaer and Schenectady Counties); Glens Falls Hospital Living Tobacco-Free Initiative (Saratoga, Warren and Washington Counties); Advancing Tobacco-Free Communities of Hamilton, Fulton and Montgomery CountiesAdvancing Tobacco-Free Communities of Delaware, Otsego and Schoharie Counties; and BRiDGES Advancing Tobacco-Free Communities of Oneida, Herkimer and Madison Counties.

Local colleges make Tobacco-Free Dean’s List

By on September 25th, 2015


On Thursday, the American Cancer Society released its 2015 New York State Dean’s List Report which gives grades to all New York State colleges on their efforts to develop and implement campus-wide tobacco-free policies. In the Capital District, nine colleges scored an A for having a comprehensive tobacco-free policy in place and for taking measures to maximize compliance.  Congratulations and thank you to the local colleges that have provided their employees and students with a healthier environment in which to work and learn.

Below is a list of local colleges along with their scores. Click on the links to learn more about their tobacco-free policies.

Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences   A
Albany Law School A
Albany Medical College B
College of Saint Rose A
Excelsior College C
Hudson Valley Community College A
Maria College A
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute A
Sage Colleges A
Schenectady County Community College A
Siena College A
SUNY University at Albany D
SUNY Polytechnic Institute  I (Incomplete or actively planning)
Union College  I – (has announced they will go tobacco-free on July 1, 2016)

Albany Housing Authority going smoke-free!

By on August 12th, 2015


The Albany Housing Authority (AHA) Board of Commissioners voted on Tuesday to make all 2,200 Albany Housing Authority units smoke-free as of January 1, 2016.

“As a former smoker, I understand the power of addiction,” said AHA executive director Steve Longo. “But my role, and the role of the board, is to protect the housing and health of those with limited means who don’t smoke. This will improve the air quality for everyone.” 

Read Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan’s press release.
Read more in the Times Union.

Schenectady Housing Authority Smoke-Free Policy Effective & Popular

By on June 17th, 2015


Two years since the Schenectady Municipal Housing Authority (SMHA) implemented a smoke-free policy for its senior developments, the Capital District Tobacco-Free Coalition (CDTFC) announced that a recent survey shows that the policy is helping residents smoke less and is well-liked by a majority of residents.

“It’s gratifying to see that the no-smoking policy is beginning to create healthier homes for our residents,” stated Richard Homenick, executive director of SMHA. “While there is certainly room for improvement, we know that we have the support of residents to continue to work toward 100 percent smoke-free buildings.”

For more info:
Read Press Release  shared by the Schenectady Chamber of Commerce here.
Read article in the Schenectady Gazette here.

1st Tobacco-Free Tulip Fest!

By on May 12th, 2015


We had a great time in Washington Park over the weekend celebrating the 1st Tobacco-Free Tulip Fest with “Play Hard, Breathe Easy” games, prizes, giveaways. . .and more! Hundreds of festival-goers stopped by our booth to sign a banner thanking the City of Albany for making the parks tobacco-free, to enter a sweepstakes for a Fresh Air basket (winner to be announced soon), and to earn a prize pinwheel by playing hard at Hula Hoop, Twirl ‘n Jump and sack racing.

Shout outs to the Albany Police Department for posting tobacco-free message boards in the park; to the Department of Recreation and the Department of General Services for installing the tobacco-free signage; to Special Events for getting the word out to vendors and the community; and to the City’s Administration for their support. Thanks, too, to our UAlbany SUNY and Catholic Central High School student volunteers who worked hard and played hard and to all of you who stopped by our booth to help us celebrate!

Here are just a few pics from the weekend. . .more will be posted on our Facebook page soon. If you spot yourself in a photo, be sure to comment and let us know!











































NYS Tobacco Control Saves Lives and Money

By on February 25th, 2015


Things are already under way in Meeting Room 1 of the Empire State Plaza where representatives of Advancing Tobacco-Free Communities, Reality Check, and Health Systems for a Tobacco-Free New York along with volunteer youth leaders are available to answer questions, offer resources and give demonstrations about effective tobacco prevention programs being delivered across the state.

Acting New York State Health Commissioner, Dr. Howard Zucker is there along with Dr. Ursula Bauer of the CDC, calling on the next generation in New York to support the measures.

Check out the news story on WNYT.

Smiles Abound at Smoke-Free Movie Night!

By on February 19th, 2015


Last night, more than 200 people came out for Reality Check’s Family Movie Night at Afrim’s in Colonie. The event featured a free screening of the family-friendly and smoke-free movie Up, along with free pizza, snacks, face painting and activities at intermission.  Attendees posed for photos with costumed characters Kevin, Russell and Mr. Fredricksen, in front of a hand-painted Up house and participated in activities to raise awareness of the impact of smoking in kids’ movies. Check out all the smiles and fun in photos posted on the Reality Check Facebook page.

The event was organized and hosted by Reality Check volunteer teens from Niskayuna High School and Albany County 4-H as part of the International Week of Action on Smokefree Movies. The student volunteers wore blue t-shirts emblazoned with “90%”, representing the percentage of adult smokers who started smoking before the age of 18. The teens collected parent signatures which will be combined with signatures from other Reality Check groups across the state calling upon the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to attach an “R” rating to any movie showing smoking.

FREE Smoke-Free Movie Night!!

By on February 9th, 2015


Looking for something fun and free to do over February Break? Grab the kids and head over to Afrim’s Sports on Wednesday, February 18 @ 5:00pm for a FREE showing of the adventure-packed, award-winning, and smoke-free movie, UP!

Kevin's ready to get a photo  taken with you!

Kevin’s ready to get a photo
taken with you!

Enjoy the movie for the first or fifteenth time (it never gets old), enjoy some free pizza, snacks, face painting and other activities during intermission. Have your photo taken with Up movie costumed characters Russell, Carl and Kevin and FREE balloons for all.

February 16-20 marks the International Week of Action (IWA) on Smoke-free Movies.  Scheduled the same week as the Academy Awards, IWA is a chance for youth groups, parent groups, health organizations and consumer alliances worldwide to pressure the film industry to eliminate smoking from youth rated films. Capital District youth will be collecting signatures calling for the Motion Picture Association of America to attach an “R” rating to any movie showing smoking.

Bleacher seating is available, but feel free to bring your own blanket, low lawn chair or stadium seat. Doors will open at 4:30; event starts promptly at 5:00.

Sponsored by Capital Region Reality Check, a teen-led program to prevent youth smoking, and organized by local area teens. For more info, contact Reality Check at 459-2388 or email; check out the Event Page; and follow RC on Facebook!