News and Updates

 Local Youth Attend Statewide Tobacco Control Youth Summit
Teens Take Action to Create Change in their Communities

Hauppauge, NY  July 12-14 2016 Members of the New York State tobacco control youth movement, Reality Check, came together last week in Upstate New York at Cazenovia College for the annual Youth Summit. This year the Youth Summit was an opportunity for youth to develop and use the personal skills and talents they possess to help shape the statewide movement toward a tobacco-free generation. 

The theme for the summit was “iAM Building a Tobacco-Free Generation.” Group activitiView More: and workshops prepared youth advocates to stand up to the tobacco industry and play a major role in creating change in their local communities by educating elected officials and working with key community leaders to address the problem of youth smoking and its causes.

“Every year, the annual Youth Summit attracts some of the brightest, best and most creative young people to help pave the path to a tobacco free world,” said Jeffrey Seyler, President and CEO of the American Lung Association of the Northeast.  “As a partner of the Lung Association and the Advancing Tobacco Free Communities network, Reality Check has played an important role in decreasing the number of youths that use tobacco products in recent years.  I am confident that their great work will continue to make a difference in the way young adults think of their health, their lungs and the long terms effects of smoking.”

Teens at the Youth Summit took part in group activities helping them creatively plan community events throughout 2017.   “In New York State, 7.3 percent of high school students still smoke and the average age of a new smoker is just 13, so we still have a lot of work to do. After coming to Youth Summit, I know we have the power to make our vision of a tobacco-free generation a reality,” said Sam Moustafa, a 15 year old Reality Check LI member from Southampton.

The Youth Summit featured presentations from keynote speaker Shaun Derik.  “After seeing so many young people at this conference on fire in the fight against Big Tobacco,” said Derik, “I'm inspired, more than ever, to continue to my work in effective youth development.”

Follow the work of Reality Check and learn about future tobacco control events at and on social media @RealityCheckofNY.


Reality Check LI Celebrates Kick Butts Day

Local pharmacy owner honored for not selling tobacco productsRC Youth RCC and Pharmacist Bob

 Southampton, NY – March 15, 2016

In celebration of Kick Butts Day, Reality Check LI teens honored Robert Grisnik, a pharmacist and owner of Southrifty Drug in Southampton for his leadership and commitment to not sell tobacco products. Local teens presented a certificate of recognition and expressed their appreciation.

“We want to thank Mr. Grisnick for looking out for kids in our community and being a leader in deciding not to sell tobacco products“, said Sam Moustafa, KBD Group Photo OutsideReality Check teen. “Kids shouldn’t grow up thinking cigarettes are okay because you buy them at the same place as medicine and other health products”; said Megan Williams, Reality Check teen.

Reality Check Teens set up a table to educate the community about the importance of banning the sale of tobacco at all pharmacies and asked for residents and local organizations to sign on their support.  

“The Surgeon General of the United States calls tobacco use a pediatric epidemic, with 3.6 million youth currently smoking cigarettes. I came to support Kick Butts Day because of a proven medical correlation: the more you smoke, the more you stroke. Stroke can often result in permanent disability and even death,” said Dr. Olga McAbee, Director of Neurology and Stroke at Southampton Hospital.

“The absence of tobacco products also reduces youth exposure to tobacco imagery and marketing which are known to increase youth smoking rates. Each year, 10,600 kids under 18 become new daily smokers in New York. The efforts by pharmacies such as Southrifty take steps towards reducing that number and protecting our youth”, said Michael Hoffner, Reality Check LI Coordinator.

“Pharmacies that refuse to stop selling tobacco products make the process of quitting smoking more difficult,” said Susan Kennedy, Director of the Tobacco Action Coalition of Long Island. “Having to face your biggest challenge every time you go to purchase nicotine replacement products or other non-smoking medications is a catch-22”.  

“We applaud Bob Grisnik for leading by example and choosing to not sell tobacco products in his pharmacy,” said Michael Seilback, Vice President of Public Policy & Communications at the American Lung Association of the Northeast.  “We hope to eventually see all pharmacies tobacco-free because we know that when kids see tobacco behind the checkout counter, they do take notice.  Pharmacies and stores like Mr. Grisnik’s that make the decision to not sell tobacco are truly helping to save lives because they’re preventing another generation from picking up a habit that is both addictive and deadly.”

Kick Butts Day is a national day of activism sponsored by the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids that empowers youth to speak out and stand up to the tobacco industry in an effort to end tobacco use once and for all. 

Reality Check LI Youth Go to Albany to Educate About Tobacco Control and Attend Leadership Training

February 8-9, 2016

Reality Check LI Youth Go to Albany to Educate About Tobacco Issues and Attend Leadership Training

Reality Check LI youth and tobacco control program contractors gathered at the New York State Capitol to educate lawmakers about the important tobacco prevention work they are doing in their communities.  Reality Check LI youth also joined Reality Check groups from around NYS at the “Your Voice is Powerful” leadership training facilitated by Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids.

Among the elected officials Reality Check LI youth meet with was Assemblymen Fred Thiele of Southampton. The youth discussed local efforts the group is taking to promote tobacco prevention. The group also spoke about hopes for the future, including working with the community to create smoke-free parks, playgrounds and beaches.

 I think it’s important to educate our friends and communities about how tobacco use negatively impacts us. Our goal is to create healthier communities for us all to live in” said Sam Moustafa, Reality Check Teen, Southampton“We are excited to have had the opportunity to sit down and speak with Assemblymen Thiele. The experience not only gave the youth the chance to educate him about the important work Reality Check is doing but it also helps empower them to speak to community members and other elected officials when they return back to their communitiesstated Michael Hoffner, Reality Check LI Coordinator

Reality Check LI currently works with schools and youth programs around Long Island to help empower youth to become leading voices in the community against the deceptive tactics of the tobacco industry.

January 4-5 2016

Pat-Med GroupReality Check Coordinator met with students from South Ocean and Oregon Middle School in the Patchogue- Medford school district.  Students took part in a Point of Sale activity showing how the tobacco industry markets their products towards youth. 

This was the second year in a row Reality Check has teamed us with South Ocean and Oregon students