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Teens unite against tobacco industry

Reality Check demostrates in Niagara Square, Buffalo, NY
WBFO News photo by Ashley Hassett
Reality Check demostrates in Niagara Square, Buffalo, NY

By Ashley Hassett & Eileen Buckley


Buffalo, NY – Teenagers from across the state rallied in downtown Buffalo Thursday morning to send a strong message to the tobacco industry.

They are members of Reality Check. Over 130 teens joined together to ask the state to ban all cigarette ads and packaging.

The teens say tobacco ads clearly target teens to light up. Staten Island Reality Check Program Coordinator Julian Kaplan said big tobacco is only looking to recruit new smokers and it has to stop.

"The young people here have decided that they're not gonna be targets anymore and this is just the beginning. We want our youth to walk into their deli's, their convenient stores and see plain boxes. Just like it's going on in four other countries around the world, we want that to begin in New York State," said Kaplan.

Reality Check Youth Advocate James Hazzard said the ads were clearly put in place to entice teens to light up. He said the group is looking for New York State to ban cigarette ads and packaging.

"You can go in and look at gum and it looks like a pack of Camel. Like kids are seeing that when they purchase their products and it's alarming and at some point it's going to push them into smoking and what were trying to do is were trying to get that covered up and get all the tobacco advertisements covered up so that way there is none and kids aren't bombarded by that," said Hazzard.

The organization noted that some colorful cigarette packages look more like packs of gum designed to attract little kids.