The Telegram
  • Tobacco prevention advocates visit the capitol

  • One Ilion teenager and dozens of regional other tobacco prevention advocates met with state representatives at the capitol on Tuesday.

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  • One Ilion teenager and dozens of regional other tobacco prevention advocates met with state representatives at the capitol on Tuesday.
    Chelsea Blovat, a senior at Ilion Senior High School, spent the day in Albany with about 25 other youth leaders from Herkimer, Oneida and Madison counties as representatives for Reality Check, a youth-based, adult-mentored group that wants to see the end of tobacco use and advertising.
    “We were able to go and see some of our legislators and were able to talk to them and invite them to events in the near future,” Blovat said in a telephone interview Tuesday.
    The youth leaders got to meet with state Assemblyman Marc Butler, R,I,C-Newport, state Sen. David Valesky, D-Oneida, and state Assemblywoman RoAnn Destito, D-Rome, among other legislators.
    This was a part of Legislative Day, which allows constituents to meet with their representatives at the capitol.
    Blovat said the members got to meet with the legislators face-to-face to talk about their agenda. She said they also hand-delivered invitations to the representatives to attend a movie that will play at The Stanley Theatre in Utica which tells the story of Herkimer County youth whose family is affected by a tobacco-related cancer.
    The group also mailed out 30,000 subscription cards for magazines that advertise tobacco products, such as Sports Illustrated, People, ESPN and Time. A sticker was placed on each card which had pre-paid postage that the group does not want to see tobacco advertising in their respective journals.
    The cards were then loaded into a body bag, instead of a mail bag, and brought to the capital’s mailroom so they could be sent out.
    “We don’t want tobacco marketing in magazines,” she said.
    Blovat, who has been with Reality Check for about a year, said this was her first trip to the capital to talk about their agenda.
    “It’s a really great cause and it’s a way to give back to the community,” said Blovat.
    State Sen. James Seward, R,C,I-Oneonta, also met with public health advocates in Albany on Tuesday as part of Legislative Day. Among those he met with included Sue Casanova who represents Herkimer County in the Bridges to Prevent Tobacco program.
    “The information presented by educators like those with the Bridges to Prevent Tobacco program is enlightening,” said Seward in a news release. “Bridges’ focus on point of sale tobacco advertising is particularly meaningful and illustrates valid concerns.”
    Bridges to Prevent Tobacco is funded and overseen by the state Department of Health with prevention activities taking place in Herkimer, Madison and Oneida counties. The group advocates for truth in advertising, labeling and product design and displayed a “mock store” as part of their presentation.
    Page 2 of 2 - A news release from Seward’s office stated the American Lung Association recently released a study showing that smoking costs the state $20 billion a year when you include medical expenses, lost worker productivity and premature death. According to the American Cancer Society, 25,000 New Yorkers lose their lives to tobacco every year and an additional 570,000 New Yorkers live with a tobacco-caused disease.