By REBECCA ISENHART
This past week, students at Niskayuna High School decorated sidewalks with messages that were beautiful to look at, but jarring to read. As part of a partnership with Reality Check of Albany, Schenectady and Rensselaer counties, the students used chalk to raise awareness about the dangers of tobacco for World No Tobacco Day. The holiday is sponsored by the World Health Organization and falls on May 31 each year.
Niskayuna Students Advocating for a Positive Environment (S.A.P.E.) hope the information they chose to highlight will catch the attention of students, teachers and parents.
Bianca Sciocchetti, Niskayuna High School junior and Reality Check member, hoped to remind people that tobacco marketing is an ongoing problem for American teenagers. “Almost 90% of new smokers are still under the age of 18,” she said.
Smoking continues to be the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the U.S., killing more than 23,600 New Yorkers every year. The majority of new tobacco customers are youth, so Reality Check’s statewide programming is led by 13- to 18-year-olds and is tailored to combat marketing practices that entice young adults to light up.