As the New Year starts, Madison, Oneida and Herkimer County Advancing Tobacco Free Community leaders and Reality Check youth want to reach out to the public and let them know the progress they have made this past year in tobacco control and their goals for the New Year.

Reality Check youth leaders from across New York State worked hard this past year to reduce youth exposure to tobacco marketing in stores and on screen and to educate localities on the benefits of tobacco free outdoor spaces and tobacco free housing.

The youth have been active doing tobacco and litter cleanup in various communities, and sharing the results with municipal leaders. They are trying to spread the word on how important tobacco-free grounds are in protecting our environment from harmful tobacco litter, as well as keeping secondhand smoke away from our youth and citizens. Both Madison and Oneida Counties currently have tobacco-free buildings and grounds for all county-owned property. This also helps to keep the normalcy of using these products out of sight of our youth.

Madison County Reality Check students have partnered with the Boy Scouts to educate the village of Munnsville on tobacco free outdoors and reducing exposure to tobacco marketing in the retail environment.

Oneida County 4-H students invited Reality Check to talk to them about tobacco in the retail environment and those students educated some members of the Oneida County Board of Legislators on what they learned and their opinions on the matter.

Along with the Hamilton Area Community Coalition, Reality Check has been working in the town and village of Hamilton to reduce the impact of secondhand smoke and tobacco in the retail environment. They are also working to educate people on the importance of making sure marijuana does not make its way into the Hamilton community, particularly by learning from the steps taken by other communities mitigate the negative impact of tobacco.

Reality Check has also been working collaboratively with Prevention Education Specialists from BRiDGES, Madison County's Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse. These specialists educate schools about vaping and Reality Check specialists have been able to offer students actions they can take to combat this epidemic.

For more information, visit: preventtobacco.org.