FALCONER - A group of Falconer Middle School students are taking a stand against the tobacco industry and its marketing tactics.
As the only chapter of Reality Check of New York in the immediate area, the student group will be participating in the national observance of Kick Butts day for the second consecutive year.
According to its website, Kick Butts day began in 1996 as a day of activism that empowers youth to stand out, speak up and seize control against big tobacco corporations. The 2013 Kick Butts day took place on Wednesday, with more than 1,300 events taking place across the country. Due to poor weather conditions, the Falconer group will be participating in the event in the coming weeks - during the students' spring break.
Members of the Falconer Middle School Reality Check group pose with an Albro Bench Advertising bench, sporting a tobacco free advertisement. Pictured, from left, are: Nate Lamer, Ben Ware, Analyce Williams, Nicholas Lamer, Zach King, and Jamie Albro, manager of Albro Bench Advertising.
P-J photo by Gavin Paterniti
Last year, the students' observance of Kick Butts day involved picking up cigarette butts on Main Street in Falconer. According to Sam Vanstrom, senior program coordinator of the Chautauqua, Cattaraugus & Allegany counties Reality Check division, the Falconer group has chosen to repeat this display of community service.
"The kids will be picking up cigarette butts, and they'll start at the (high) school," said Vanstrom. "The kids will be wearing Haz-Mat suits with bright stickers on them, and they'll probably go down to about the library and hit the municipal parking lot and park. We're just trying to clean up Falconer a little bit, and get the word out about how toxic cigarette butts are."
Vanstrom said that the Falconer Reality Check group currently has 12 members, including seventh-, eighth- and ninth-graders, and six or seven core members who are actively involved.
On Wednesday, the group's core members met with Jamie Albro, manager of Albro Bench Advertising, in front of Falconer's Kozy Corner Cleaning to thank him for his company's tobacco free advertising policy. An example of Albro Bench's advertising can be found on a bench in front of the laundromat.
According to its website, Reality Check is a teen led, adult supported group working throughout New York state. Since its formation in 2000, it has aimed to expose the manipulative and deceptive marketing tactics of the tobacco industry, which actively markets its products to youth.