Reality Check

Who We Are

Reality CheckReality Check is a youth-led movement within the New York State Tobacco Control Program that is committed to exposing the manipulative and deceptive marketing practices of the tobacco industry. The state wide youth initiative strives to change the social norms regarding tobacco by de-normalizing and de-glamorizing tobacco, tobacco use and the tobacco industry. We are NOT against smokers… We are against the industry that markets tobacco.

Tobacco advertising focuses on the needs of adolescents—their desire for independence and popularity—and even brief exposure to tobacco advertising can change their attitudes toward smoking. Tobacco use is still the single largest cause of preventable death in the United States. And, although many people have stopped smoking, more than 4,000 young people smoke their first cigarette each day.

Smoke Free Movies – Eliminating smoking and tobacco imagery from movies rated G, PG, and PG-13 that contain smoking or tobacco imagery product placement.

Point of Sale/ Retail initiative – Increase the number of retail tobacco stores that have a written policy prohibiting Tobacco Company or tobacco product advertising.

Smoke Free Outdoors – Increase the number of local laws, regulations and voluntary policies that prohibit tobacco use in outdoor areas including public parks, beaches, playgrounds, clubs, college campuses, schools and outdoor areas of businesses.

Contact Info

Orange County Department of Health
Reality Check
130 Broadway
Newburgh, NY 12550

Phone: 845-568-5246
Fax: 845-565-5279

Lisa Spitzner, Public Health Educator

Retail Initiative

Point of Sale/ Retail Initiative

Tobacco companies have greatly intensified their marketing efforts in stores. There efforts are intended to increase demand, ensure an ever-present supply for the addicted customer and entice new customers. The research shows that this type of marketing influences tobacco use, and affects kid’s attitudes towards tobacco products.

Know the Facts

Young people are three times more vulnerable to advertisements than adults. (2)
Teens are more likely to use tobacco due to advertising than due to peer pressure.(3)
33% of youth experimentation with smoking can be directly linked to tobacco advertisements.
Tobacco Point of Purchase Advertising gives the impression that tobacco products are easily accessible.
There are 400, 00 new underage smokers in the U.S. each year. 1/3 of youth smokers will die prematurely from tobacco related diseases. (1)

To fight back against Big Tobacco, Reality Check has launched a campaign asking local tobacco retailers to reduce, remove and rearrange tobacco advertising in and around their stores. Over ______ store owners across Orange County have agreed to participate in our project. Click here to see if your local store owner is involved, if not ask them to join us.

Take Action Now

If you are bothered by large amounts of tobacco ads in or around your local stores, let your elected officials know. Ask them to pass a resolution to reduce tobacco ads in stores.
If you see exterior ads near schools or playgrounds, ask that the ads be removed or rearranged.
If you see tobacco ads near candy or snacks, ask that the ads be removed ore rearranged.
Learn more and educate your family and friends.

Foot Notes

1. CDC, “Annual Smoking-Attributable Mortality, Years of Potential Life Lost, and Economic Costs -- United States 1997-2001,” MMWR 54(25):625-628, July 1, 2005
2. Pollay R. The last straw? Cigarette advertising and realized market shares among youths and adults. Journal of Marketing. 1996; 60(2):1-16.
3. Evans N, Farkas A, Gilpin E, Berry C, Pierce JP. Influence of tobacco marketing and exposure to smokers on adolescent susceptibility to smoking. J Natl Cancer Inst. 1995; 87(20):1538-1545.

Stores We Thank

Reality Check of Orange County would like to thank the following store owners who have voluntarily agreed to reduce or eliminate tobacco ads in their stores.

Smoke Free Movie Initiative

Tobacco companies have taken advantage of the powerful influence movies have on people’s behavior to popularize and normalize smoking. Despite legally binding pledges from tobacco companies to stop paying cash for brand placement, tobacco brands still appear in movies. Portrayals of smoking in movies promote the same themes as other tobacco advertising: rebellion, independence, sexiness, wealth, power and celebration. Rarely do movies depict the realities of smoking - characters suffering from smoke related diseases and the effects of secondhand smoke. Scientific research confirms that on-screen smoking strongly influences young people to start smoking. Reality Check has joined the Smoke Free Movie campaign to urge the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and major movie studios to adopt four evidence-based policies that would help counter the impact of smoking in movies on youth.

The Smoke Free Movies Policy Solutions:

1. Include strong and effective anti-smoking ads before all movies in which tobacco is depicted.

2. Certify that nothing of value was received in exchange for the depiction of tobacco in a movie.

3. End all brand appearances.

4. Rate any new movie with smoking R.

Take Action Now

Write a letter ( ) to the Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of the giant media companies that own the studios. Ask them to stop glamorizing smoking; ask studios to run an anti-smoking ad before any movie that contains smoking; ask them to certify that tobacco companies do not provide anything of value to have their products used or displayed in a movie.

Write the president of the Motion Picture Association of America ( demanding that smoking be eliminated from G, PG and PG-13 movies.

Visit SmokeFreeMovies ( Take Action Page. Ask local theaters to run an anti-smoking ad before any movie that contains smoking.

Get the Facts

Smoke Free Outdoors

There has been an evolving trend in making outdoor public spaces smoke- free. This is fueled by increasing proof of the dangers of secondhand smoke, discontent over cigarette litter, and an understanding that when tobacco use is less visible in the public landscape, children and teens are less likely to view it as a common part of adult behavior to which they might aspire. Introducing outdoor smoke-free areas is a positive step to protect the community from second-hand smoke while at the same time promoting positive health messages and a cleaner, safer environment.

Take Action

Be Aware
Take a look around play areas in your town and watch to see if people are smoking. Also check the ground for butts, which are not biodegradable and can be dangerous if eaten by pets or inquisitive toddlers.

Call us If you are concerned about tobacco use at a children's playground or park in your town, please contact us. We can help by making a presentation to your town board about the importance of clean outdoor air.

Support Tobacco-free Policy simply by passing a resolution, your town can agree to make children's playgrounds, parks and other outdoor recreation areas entirely smoke free. We will even provide the signage free of charge. Contact us to find out how to pass a resolution in your town.

Read more on the impacts of smoking in outdoor spaces.

Secondhand Smoke
Health Impacts
Environmental Impacts
Behavioral Impacts

Useful Links
The Smoking & Tobacco Use web site provides easy access to a comprehensive collection of data, data sources, publications, and products on a wide range of topics including Health Effects, Secondhand Smoke, Youth Tobacco Prevention, Tobacco Industry and Products, Smokeless (Oral) Tobacco and Smoking Cessation.
The American Lung Association offers a variety of smoking control and prevention programs including TATU, a peer-teaching tobacco control program aimed at deterring youngsters from taking up smoking. ALA also has a smoking cessation program for teens, called Not On Tobacco, or N-O-T. For people who already smoke, the American Lung Association offers its Freedom From Smoke program, considered the "gold standard" of group-setting, peer-support smoking cessation programs.
Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is on the front lines of tobacco prevention. They provide the tools, information, news and support you need to take an active role in the fight against youth tobacco addiction and the tobacco industry. They also provide suggestions and assistance for other projects you can undertake in your community to help keep kids tobacco-free.
Information on tobacco industry advertising, sponsorship and promotion.
Smoke Free Movies aims to sharply reduce the U.S. film industry's usefulness to Big Tobacco's domestic and global marketing. Learn all about smoking in the movies and what you can do about it. Read secret tobacco industry documents and find out who is heavily promote smoking in films.
Learn about tobacco retail advertising practices and how they impact your community. Take action by participating in their store alert data collection tool and share your results with policymakers, civic leaders, and the media.
Free resource center with up-to-the-minute headlines on tobacco and smoking-related issues. Looking for news briefs, information on law suits, mind-boggling quotes from tobacco industry leaders, or the latest in tobacco industry advertising? Look no further. This award-winning site houses extensive on-line archives of all these and more.
The Truth Campaign. Enter the “crazy world” to get facts on tobacco.
The Badvertising Institute is dedicated to immunizing young people against deceitful, seductive tobacco tactics by giving them the skills for recognizing the "tobacco tricks" and mentally correcting the imagery whenever they see the ads.
The Tobacco Action Coalition of LI provides information on tobacco industry advertising, sponsorship, and promotion.