For Miranda Bickham, the fight against tobacco marketing is personal.
“A few people in my family are tobacco users, so I want to learn how it affects people and what we can do to keep people from using it,” said Bickham.
On February 6th Bickham, a 10th grader at Windsor Central High School, will be able to tell state leaders about her efforts to curb tobacco marketing at the Tobacco Control Legislative Education Day in Albany. She is Windsor’s representative from Reality Check, a state-wide youth tobacco prevention program.
“I’m a little nervous because I’ve never been,” said Bickham. “I want to learn more about how we’re going to be tobacco-free in schools and cut off tobacco marketing.”
Reality Check has been active at Windsor Central High School for just about a month, and it is already making an impact. It has six members, including Bickham.
“It’s impressive. This group of kids has done more in this period of time than any of our other groups,” said Laura Kelly, Public Health Coordinator with the Broome County Health Department. She oversees Reality Check chapters in schools in Broome and Tioga counties.
“This is a good opportunity to meet with legislators and talk about the tobacco-control work they are doing in their communities,” said Kelly.
According to Reality Check, the average age of a new smoker is 13 years old, smoking directly causes almost $10.4 billion in health care costs annually in New York, and tobacco kills more people annually than alcohol use, illegal drug use, Homicide, HIV/AIDS and car accidents combined.