Youth Taking Action

New York’s young people are making a difference in communities across the state, bringing energy, creativity and good humor to the challenging work of pushing back on Big Tobacco’s persistent efforts to hook kids. Holding community education events on annually sponsored tobacco awareness days is one of many ways Capital District youth speak out, stand up and join youth from across the state and the nation to get their voices heard.  

World No Tobacco Day

Every year on May 31, the World Health Organization (WHO) sponsors World No Tobacco Day, a worldwide day of action to broaden the community’s understanding of the tobacco industry’s impact on world health.  

Capital District Reality Check youth responded to the 2024 World No Tobacco Day call to action to “step in and speak out” about the predatory tactics of the tobacco industry by contributing to the release of the video, Stop the Vape.  RC member interviews with their high school teachers, school administrators and fellow students shed light on the problem of youth vaping and how disruptive it is to the school day and to the learning environment. This project was designed to raise awareness of the continued sale of illegal flavored vapes containing nicotine and the importance of closing loopholes in NYS law to prevent youth from accessing these products. The video to the left is the 4.5-minute version. Watch the extended 10-minute version

Albany High School Project – Through the Lens: Exposing How Tobacco Marketing Attracts and Addicts Youth

Not all local youth have the time and ability to be members of Reality Check. But all youth have a voice. And all youth bring something to the table.

Albany High Photography students were asked to apply their creativity and skill to design educational posters calling attention to young people’s use of flavored vapes and the need to bolster enforcement of NYS law prohibiting their continued sale. The students amazed us with their creations. These three submissions were selected for their powerful imagery and adherence to the theme. 

Shout out to Albany High students Ian Roach, Leo Connell, Olive Stimac, Aidan Carlson, Akeela Robertson, and Gianna Rappazzo for sharing their talents and granting permission for us to use their work in our local efforts to stop the sale of illegal vapes. 

In addition to being shared on CDTFC’s website and social media platforms, the selected posters were on display at the Albany County Department of Health, the MVP arena and in the main foyer and intranet of St. Peter’s Hospital. The Albany Public Library Main branch also featured the exhibition over the summer of 2024. 

Seen Enough Tobacco Day

Did you know that the average age of a new smoker is 13? Yes, you heard that right–13!! To us, that’s a horrifying statistic. But to the tobacco industry, it’s music to their ears. Because if a person doesn’t start smoking before the age of 18, they’re probably never going to start. That’s why the tobacco and vape industries are so intent on making their products sweet, cheap and easy to get. And the earlier a person starts to smoke, the more likely they’ll become a lifelong smoker. . .and tobacco product customer.

Each year on October 13, young people across New York State unite to let the tobacco industry know that they’ve Seen Enough Tobacco. Here are some of the events Capital District youth have spearheaded to raise awareness within their school communities.

Take Down Tobacco National Day of Action

On Take Down Tobacco National Day of Action (formerly Kick Butts Day), youth advocates across the country rally together to stand up and speak out against the tobacco industry. This is Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids’ signature day of youth advocacy.

For the past few years, this day has fallen on April Fool’s Day to expose Big Tobacco’s lies and reveal who they really are: jokers who gamble with people’s lives. 

Check out what Capital District youth have being doing to Take Down Tobacco once and for all.

New York State Legislative Education Day

Young people have a significant stake in the future of their communities and how well the lived environment supports tobacco-free choices. Sharing their knowledge and perspectives with decision-makers is an important way for youth to get their voices heard about what’s important to them.

Every February, youth join tobacco control partners from across New York State in Albany to celebrate the previous year’s achievements and to meet with state legislators to let them know the problems that remain and require their attention. This has been a terrific opportunity for Capital Region youth to meet other like-minded young people from across the state united in a common goal. . .to create the first tobacco-free generation. 

To get a peek into NYS Legislative Education Day, watch this video and see how NYS youth are ensuring that Big Tobacco can’t hide the facts.

The Great American Smokeout

The Great American Smokeout (GASO), sponsored by the American Cancer Society is observed annually the third Thursday of November to encourage smokers to commit to healthy smoke-free lives—not just for a day, but for life.

With 1 in 5 high school students currently using tobacco products, the availability of youth cessation support is critical to help young users deal with nicotine addiction. For help with quitting vaping, teens and young adults (ages 13-24) can text  “DROPTHEVAPE” to 88709 to join This Is Quitting, a free texting support program. Parents can also text “QUIT” to 202-899-7550 to receive daily advice to help youth quit. 

Equally important is preventing youth from ever developing a nicotine addiction by keeping tobacco products out of their hands. Local youth use GASO as an opportunity to encourage their peers to make a personal decision to not use tobacco products and to encourage the community to take steps to prevent the tobacco industry from marketing to kids in the first place.

Smoke-Free Movies International Week of Action

Every year in the week leading up to the annual Academy Awards, NYS youth focus the community’s attention on the impact of smoking in movies. Many young people’s favorite actors and actresses light up on and off the movie screen and that has an impact on whether or not they themselves ever use tobacco. It is estimated that exposure to on-screen smoking leads to 37% of all adolescent smokers in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that giving an R rating to films that portray smoking would prevent one million tobacco deaths among today’s youth.

These photos show youth letting the community know that they’ve “scene” enough tobacco and inviting people to sign the Petition to keep smoking out of the films kids watch.

To learn more about the ways in which smoking and vaping imagery in all forms of media impact youth tobacco use, go to our Smoke-Free Media page.