Reflections on a 23-year career in tobacco control
Personal message from Director, Judy Rightmyer, who after 23 years of leadership and service, retires at the end of June 2024. Judy’s passion, persistence and vision have been the driving force behind the journey toward a tobacco-free Capital District. Her retirement may mark the end of an era, but her legacy will fuel our continued efforts to build an even safer and healthier community. If you know Judy at all, you know she is a woman always on the move. See her in action throughout the many years she has led the CDTFC team.

As my more than two decades of work on tobacco control come to a close, my thoughts naturally turn to our accomplishments – making all bars, restaurants and indoor workplaces smokefree, ending the sale of tobacco in pharmacies, raising the minimum legal sale age for tobacco to 21, establishing 100% tobacco and vape free colleges, ending smoking in all public housing and at all state parks, beaches and playgrounds.  Our slow, steady local and statewide efforts have truly improved public health in New York State.

I’m very proud of these major policy accomplishments, and yet it’s been the people I’ve met and the relationships I’ve built along the way that have left the largest imprint on my heart.  I’m so grateful for all the interested and concerned community members, the public health advocates and my statewide colleagues who have worked collaboratively to advance public health policy, lowering the smoking rate in NYS from 23% when I started in 2001 to 12% today.  We’ve helped countless smokers quit and prevented so many youth from starting.

My greatest appreciation goes out to my staff whose intellect, passion, and endless commitment to changing our world for the better has kept me energized and engaged in my work each day.  Theresa Zubretsky and I will be leaving on the same day, looking forward to new retirement adventures.  Jeanie Orr will take on the role of Director, supported by Simona Fish engaging community members in our work and our new youth coordinator Katrina Hastings energizing and motivating young people to stand up to the tobacco industry.  I could not be more confident that great change will continue to happen under the direction and efforts of these exceptional women.

Onward in peace and good health, 

 Judy Rightmyer