New York State Tobacco Control Program Recognizes the Champions of the 70

Albany – The New York State Tobacco Control Program (NYSTCP) community partners recognized the “Champions of the 70” at noon on March 23, 2010 in West Capitol Park. The “Champions of the 70” were recognized for their support and leadership in New York State’s tobacco control efforts to save the lives of 70 people who die prematurely every day in New York of diseases caused by tobacco. Honorees included the New York State Attorney General’s Office, Senator Vincent Leibell, Assemblywoman Sandy Galef, Assemblyman Sam Hoyt and Mayor Dayton King.

Recognition awards were bestowed upon the honorees by Reality Check youth from across the state. These youth work tirelessly in their communities advocating for tobacco control policies aimed at reducing youth initiation rates. “We are capping off our 10th year of progress by recognizing the important efforts of these state leaders. It is only with their help and determination that we are able to save lives and reduce tobacco use and exposure. They are truly Champions of the 70,” said Lisa Weston-Bialy a community educator for the Reality Check program. Reality Check works to prevent youth tobacco initiation by de-normalizing and de-glamorizing tobacco use.

Guest speaker Dr. Jeffrey Willett, Director of the New York State Tobacco Control Program, thanked the youth leaders of Reality Check for their contributions to the successes of the NYSTCP. In addition, he highlighted the importance of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act that President Obama signed into law On June 22, 2009.

“I would like to join Reality Check in thanking the leaders we are honoring today for their work to prevent and reduce tobacco use in New York. Without their leadership, New York would not have made the tremendous progress we have seen in reducing youth smoking.” said Dr. Willett.

The community partners acknowledged the contribution of the state attorney general’s office department of tobacco compliance for bringing the elimination of tobacco ads in school periodicals to the national floor. Their efforts led to Time Inc. and Newsweek, Inc. agreeing to eliminate tobacco advertising from school library editions of four major magazines with high youth readership. Assistant Attorney General Christopher Leung was on hand to accept the award and speak on behalf of the attorney general’s office department of tobacco compliance.

Senator Vincent Leibell (R/40th Dist.) was recognized for his effort to prevent secondhand smoke exposure, especially acknowledging his work on making SUNY dormitories smoke-free environments. He is a constant advocate for the health of our community. Assemblywoman Sandy Galef (D/90th Dist.) was acknowledged for introducing a bill calling for smoke-free parks. “She is a stalwart advocate,” said Diane Moore program coordinator for Reality Check Putnam County. Assemblyman Sam Hoyt (D/144th Dist.) has introduced a bill to ban the sale of tobacco in pharmacies. Despite some dissent among some council members, Mayor Dayton King of Gloversville passed laws prohibiting tobacco use in vehicles and parks in Gloversville. “These state and local leaders are at the forefront of the fight for stronger tobacco controls as we work to save the lives of New Yorkers and prevent youth initiation,” continued Ms. Moore.

The New York State Department of Health Tobacco Control Program implements evidence-based and promising strategies to prevent and reduce tobacco use. The NYSTCP envisions a tobacco-free society for all New Yorkers. The program began in January 2000, and is built on a foundation of community partners using evidence-based strategies from the Guide to Community Preventive Services to decrease tobacco use. Over time, the program has effectively implemented a strong clean indoor air law, maintained support for high tobacco taxes to keep the price of tobacco high, and worked to increase access to effective cessation services and motivate smokers to try to quit.

Reality Check is a program of the Putnam County Youth Bureau. Coordinator, Diane Moore can be reached by calling 845-225-6316 x46123.