Category: Reality Check

Seen Enough Tobacco Day 2020

Written by Lauren Sears on October 13, 2020

Today is #SeenEnoughTobaccoDay, which highlights the need for communities to protect children from the billions of dollars of tobacco marketing in places where kids can see it. The 13th was selected to underscore the alarming fact that the average age of a new smoker in New York is 13 years old.

While New York State’s recent ban on flavored e-cigarettes is a significant step toward reducing youth tobacco use, other flavored tobacco products, such as little cigars, chew and menthol cigarettes that are still on the market present an obstacle to decreasing tobacco use among young people and minority populations.

Menthol use among Black communities is a direct result of the tobacco industry’s marketing practices and product manipulation. Tobacco companies add menthol to make cigarettes seem less harsh and more appealing to new smokers and young people. Essentially, menthol in tobacco products, makes it easier to start and harder to quit.

Research indicates that:

Young people and African Americans are more likely to smoke menthol cigarettes than other groups.[1],[2]
More than half (54%) of youth who smoke use menthol cigarettes.[3]
Over 7 out of 10 African American youth ages 12-17 years who smoke use menthol cigarettes.[4]

Here in the Capital District, Reality Check members have provided a vital

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Columbia High School Student named 2020 Capital Region Youth Ambassador of the Year

Written by Lauren Sears on July 27, 2020

Praaghya Meyyan, a rising Columbia High School senior, is the Capital Region Youth Ambassador of the Year (YAYA). The award, sponsored by Reality Check of New York State, honors the outstanding work of young people who have taken the lead in holding tobacco companies accountable for marketing to youth. These young activists are fighting to protect their peers and communities from the dangers of tobacco use through public education efforts, peer-to-peer training and outreach to policymakers.

Praaghya has been an active member of Reality Check since 2018 and has provided a vital youth perspective on the impact of tobacco marketing on young people on issues ranging from the mixed message of selling tobacco in pharmacies, the importance of raising the age to 21 for sale of tobacco products, and the youth appeal of flavored tobacco products. Her education efforts contributed to local and state adoption of Tobacco-Free Pharmacies, Tobacco 21, and a statewide ban on the sale of flavored e-cigarettes.

She was honored by New York Assemblyman Jake Ashby and Rensselaer County Legislator Tom Grant for her tobacco control work during a virtual ceremony on July 24, 2020. To learn more about Praaghya’s involvment in Reality Check, click here.