Cortland youth attend NY tobacco control summit

The following is a republished press release and not an article written by The Cortland submit a press release, community announcement or information about an upcoming event, email Editor Peter Blanchard at

CAZENOVIA, N.Y. — Members of the New York State youth movement, Reality Check, recently came together 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 activities 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.

Reality Check youth Katherine Couture, Dakota Platt, Charlene Kolts, and Steven King with RC Chaperone, Kat Rhinehart and RC Coordinator, Melissa Potter

Reality Check youth Katherine Couture, Dakota Platt, Charlene Kolts, and Steven King with RC Chaperone, Kat Rhinehart and RC Coordinator, Melissa Potter

Teens at the Youth Summit took part in group activities helping them creatively plan community events from now through 2017. “In New York State and in Cortland County, 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 Katherine Couture of Reality Check of Cortland, Tompkins and Chenango counties.

Teens at the Youth Summit featured presentations from keynote speaker Shaun Derik, a globally-known motivational speaker and performance artist. “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

For more information go to or contact Reality Check Coordinator Melissa Potter 607-756- 3416; or Community Engagement Coordinator Jennifer Hamilton 607-758- 5501; Reality Check is a New York State youth-led, adult supported group that works to counter the deceptive marketing practices of the tobacco industry and the effects of tobacco marketing on youth.

Reality Check youth work to expose the truth about tobacco industry advertising and promotion, and to reduce the burden of tobacco-related disease and death in their communities. 

Shaun Derik is a Speaker and Performing Artist. For over 10 years, Shaun Derik, has dedicated his life to helping people, young and old, reconnect with their passion and go after their dreams. For more information visit