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.