Youth Advocates Do a Tobacco Reality Check with State Lawmakers
Advancing Tobacco Free Communities-Delaware, Otsego and Schoharie (ATFC-DOS) staff and local Reality Check youth advocates recently delivered a tobacco reality check to some state lawmakers in Albany. Participating in the legislative visits were Sheena House, Ahna Misiewicz, Arianna Mosenson and Jasmine Neill from Cherry Valley-Springfield Central School and ATFC-DOS staff. They met with Assemblyman Brian Miller representing the 101st Assembly District, Assemblyman William Magee representing the 121st Assembly District, and chief of operations for NYS Senator John Bonacic’s office representing the 42nd Senatorial District.
“I want decision-makers to know that tobacco is the leading cause of preventable disease, disability and death in New York State,” shared Ahna Misewicz, one of the participating Reality Check youth advocates. Jasmine Neill, another Reality Check youth advocate, stated that tobacco use is an addiction and 28,200 adults in New York State die each year from tobacco use.
“We’ve made great strides in combatting the tobacco epidemic, but more work needs to be done to reduce the significantly higher smoking rates among certain populations in our region and throughout the state,” said Linda Wegner, Assistant Director for ATFC-DOS.
According to Regina Haig, ATFC-DOS Youth Engagement/Reality Check Lead, “While the New York State smoking rate is 15.6 percent, it is alarming that the rates in Delaware, Otsego and Schoharie Counties are all higher than that being 22.9 percent, 26.3 percent and 19.3 percent respectively.”
Each year the ATFC-DOS group along with twenty-four other tobacco control contractors across the state educate legislators about the success of established tobacco control programs and opportunities to further decrease the burden of tobacco addiction on New Yorkers. Advancing Tobacco-Free Communities, Health Systems for a Tobacco-Free New York and the NYS Smokers’ Quitline are the key partners for New York State Tobacco Control Program. The ATFC-DOS representatives described the valuable work being done in the three-county area to reduce smoking rates and to keep youth from starting smoking which on average begins at age 13. NYS Tobacco Control Programs have been proven to reduce youth smoking and help current smokers quit, which saves lives and millions of state tax dollars.