Tobacco Free Zone: Finding Breathing Room Near You!
The Tobacco Free Zone/Reality Check program continues its pursuit in protecting young people from tobacco industry deceitful messaging, and protecting residents from harmful smoke exposure. Leading the way to engage community stakeholders to take action are dedicated youth involved in the Reality Check program. Last year, we highlighted the work of Rhett Genung and high school students in the Norwich City School District. Joining the effort this year is Pat Yaddow and students in the Bainbridge-Guilford Central School District.
Pat Yaddow, Student/Family Education Advocate Liberty Partnerships Program, is working closely with Tobacco Free Zone Chenango Coordinator, Rose Walsh, to enhance the Reality Check infrastructure in Chenango County. The students involved with Reality Check are passionate about making a difference in their community. The students are developing skills and are poised to take action in meaningful ways to reduce the devastating impact of tobacco in the areas where they live and play.
Reality Check youth and residents continue to raise their concern about people and their pets ingesting dangerous chemicals from tobacco products, especially in shared public spaces. This has led to a growing trend of local municipalities adopting policies prohibiting tobacco use in parks, at public events, and other outdoor spaces. Businesses have also designated their entrances and grounds as tobacco-free. Furthermore, multi-unit housing owners are recognizing the multitude of benefits of smoke-free policies for their buildings.
“Tobacco use remains the number one preventable cause of death and disease locally so this is extremely important work,” said Yaddow. “We are proud to be part of this effort to prevent youth smoking and create tobacco-free communities where Chenango County residents live, work and play.”
In addition, students from Bainbridge-Guilford and Norwich School Districts are meeting locally and in Albany with state elected officials to educate them on how the tobacco industry lures them into using their products through deceptive marketing tactics – much of it seen inside and outside of stores. “Tobacco companies cannot survive if kids don’t smoke,” said Walsh. “They know that stores are a vital channel to communicate with our young people. Kids don’t necessarily see that tobacco use and vaping are harmful because of the way these products are advertised and accessible through their neighborhood stores.” Many communities across New York State are looking at policies that restrict the number, location, and type of retailers that sell tobacco and vape products.