2015 News From Around the State

5th Annual Youth Advocate of the Year Ceremony 

The Youth Advocate of the Year Award, sponsored by Reality Check of New York State, honors the outstanding work of youth advocates who have taken the lead in holding the tobacco companies accountable for marketing to youth. These young activists are fighting to protect their peers and their communities from the dangers of tobacco use through public education efforts, peer-to-peer training and outreach to policymakers.  Many have worked to change policies at the local and state level to limit tobacco industry access to youth, protect youth from exposure to tobacco marketing and imagery, and ensure that tobacco prevention programs continue to receive funding.  Their work inspires and motivates other young people to join in their advocacy efforts.

Erica Olmstead from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids spoke to the power of youth activism with her keynote speech 'The 23% solution'.  Erica highlighted how 23% of the population is currently under the age of 18.  When the 23% works together and pushes for change it often happens.  Almost every revolution has had a youth component.  Youth have the power and vision to see what they want their future to look like and work to make that ideal a reality.   

Congratulations Bianca Schiocchetti 2015 Statewide Youth Advocate of the Year

Congratulations to our 2015 Regional Youth Advocates of the Year

From Left to Right: Kali Bushey, Matthew Bartolomeo, Jordyn Camp, Aubrianna Weber

Philip Morris International Shareholder Meeting

From Left to Right Sienna Bibeau-Kali Bushey- Hayley Disco-Kelsie Mesec- Emma Stewart- in times squre with john olivers Jeff the Diseased Lung after the FlashMob.jpg

On May 5th and 6th Reality Check programs from around the state gathered in New York City to join groups from around the United States and even some friends from Canada to speak out at the Philip Morris International Shareholder Conference.  RC's youth advocates met for a one day training with the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids.  Campaign spoke about PMI's recent marketing campaign "Be Marlboro" and taught RC Teens how they can Stop Marlboro. 

A small group of youth activist were selected to receive a proxy and have the opportunity to pose a question to the CEO and Board of Directors of PMI about their manipulative and deceptive marketing campaign.  Those who did not enter the meeting were able to participate in a protest and street teaming event to make the citizens of New York City aware of what PMI is doing around the world.

2015 Legislative Day 

February 25, 2015- Reality Check programs from across New York State gathered for a day of advocacy and education.  We gathered in Albany for a day to raise our voice and say "Enough is Enough".  We met with our state Assembly and Senate members to tell them what big tobacco is doing in their district.  At noon we gathered to recognize the milestones that have been made around New York State to make more places healthier to live, work, and play.  

Enough is Enough Press Conference 

We heard from pioneers in the field of tobacco prevention such as Dr. Guthrie Birkhead, Deputy Commissioner of the Public Health Office and Dr. Ursala Bauer, Director of the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion with the Center for Disease Control.

We honored:

  • Mayor Rich David and the City Council members from Binghamton, NY for preventing new tobacco retailers, from locating within 500 feet of school.
  • The Clinton County Legislature for creating and implementing a tobacco-free grounds policy for all county owned and operated properties
  • The Hornell Housing Authority for increasing access to smoke-free living by implementing their smoke-free policy within their units.
  • CVS Pharmacies for their creation and implementation of a national corporate policy to stop selling tobacco products in all of their stores nationwide.

2015 International Week of Action (IWOA)

February 15-21. Each year during the week leading up to the Academy Awards, Reality Check youth take part in events to raise awareness on the influence smoking in movies has on youth.  The events help show the importance of rating movies with smoking “R”.

This year, the many different events had Reality Check youth working locally as well as on an international scale. Reality Check youth from Western New York  joined up with youth from the Ontario Coalition for Smoke-Free Movies for an event at Niagara Falls

Images from IWOA events

Kick Butts Day

March 18th, 2015- Today is Kick Butts Day, a national day of activism sponsored by the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids that empowers youth to stand out, speak up and seize control against Big Tobacco. As a teacher, youth leader or health advocate, you can organize events to raise awareness of the tobacco problem, encourage youth to stay tobacco-free and urge strong action to protect kids from tobacco.


Becky Bade, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Central Region Youth Advocate of the Year presented on her work in the state of Missouri.  Becky is a Junior at New Bloomfield High School and a member of the Tobacco-Free Missouri Youth Advisory Board.  She has played an integral part in creating the “Stand Up to Tobacco” campaign, which collected 2,400 cards from over 80 communities, which shared personal stories on how tobacco affected them.  Becky has worked diligently to reduce the impact of tobacco in her community, even when a ballot she worked in support of failed, she was not deterred and has never stopped fighting for a tobacco-free future. 

Capital District Reality Check led a workshop on Media Literacy.  Program Coordinator Kelsey Madden and Reality Check member Bianca Schiocchetti, discussed how companies create marketing campaigns.  Some may not realize how much work goes on behind the scene to create a marketing campaign to sell products or influence behavior.  Kelsey and Bianca pointed out how some parent companies such as Pepsico own both Taco Bell and Pepsi, Mug, Mountain Dew, and Brisk Tea.  You’ll notice whenever you go into a franchise owned by Pepsico, they will only sell and endorse their own products.  While this is only one example check out the photo below to see what companies own which brands.


Reality Check of Clinton, Franklin and Essex counties presented on Guerrilla Marketing.  Program Coordinator Kimberly Cummins, Reality Check members Kelsie Mesec and Kali Bushey showcased national and local campaigns to use non-traditional marketing to spread your message.  Participants were able to learn from campaigns Reality Check has undertaken in the past 15 years and hand a chance to create their own guerrilla marketing campaigns.