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  • Melissa Potter

Local youth attend planning summit in fight against tobacco marketing in region, fight for tobacco-f

(Cortland, NY July 21, 2017) Cortland Junior Senior High School Senior Katherine Couture and Junior Kelsey Gibbons and Norwich High School Junior Steven King and Sophomore Morgan Burdick, local leaders in the statewide fight to protect future generations from the death and disease of tobacco use, have just returned from the annual Reality Check of New York Youth Summit at Cazenovia College in Central New York. Along with 150 other youth from around the state, they made plans for #SeenEnoughTobacco Day in October to fight against what they see as the manipulative and deceptive marketing tactics of the tobacco industry and their influence on youth tobacco use in their communities.

The average age of a new smoker is just 13. And, according to the U.S. Surgeon General, the advertising and promotional activities by tobacco companies cause the start and continuation of smoking among adolescents and young adults. That’s why Reality Check is fighting against the tobacco industry’s influence on youth in the region.

“Young people are vulnerable, and tobacco industry marketing takes advantage of that. For example, stores near schools have almost three times the amount of tobacco ads than stores in other areas,” said Katherine Couture. “We’ve seen enough tobacco promotions and smoking. The solution is to change our community so that tobacco and tobacco use is not the norm.”

“The tobacco industry spends more than $9 billion a year promoting tobacco products

--more than a half million dollars in New York daily,” said Kelsey Gibbons. “A number of New York communities have taken action to protect youth from tobacco marketing but we’ve got more work to do—and we’ve got the power to do it,” For example, the Cities of Binghamton and Newburgh, along with the Counties of Cayuga, Ulster and Sullivan have all adopted policies to address tobacco marketing and sales near schools and other youth-friendly facilities.

“In addition to areas around schools, tobacco companies market more heavily in low income areas. So, it’s no coincidence that one of the highest smoking rates in the state is among people making less than $25,000 a year,” said Katherine Couture. “The tobacco industry’s aggressive marketing in certain targeted communities is a social injustice, and it has to stop.”

Youth announce first statewide #SeenEnoughTobacco Day

#SeenEnoughTobacco Day on October 13, 2017 is a statewide day of action hosted by Reality Check of New York, a group of youth advocates who raise awareness of what they consider the manipulative and deceptive marketing tactics of the tobacco industry. RC youth will host tobacco-free-themed community activities and lead an online campaign to engage and educate community members and leaders about the importance of reducing youth exposure to tobacco marketing in order to be the first tobacco-free generation.

Reality Check of New York empowers youth to become leaders in their community in exposing what they see as the manipulative and deceptive marketing tactics of the tobacco industry. The organization’s members produce change in their communities through grassroots mobilization and education. Reality Check in this area is associated with the Tobacco Free Zone of Cortland, Tompkins and Chenango Counties.

#SeenEnoughTobacco is an online campaign with the goal of safeguarding children from the billions of dollars of hard-hitting tobacco promotions in places where children see them. Parents, community leaders and others interested in protecting youth are encouraged to learn more at

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