Seen Enough Tobacco Day

Fillmore, N.Y. – Youth in Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany Counties (CCA), as well as across New York State, are declaring today, Friday, October 13 as the first ever “Seen Enough Tobacco Day” (SET Day) to protect themselves and other children from the billions of dollars of tobacco promotions in places where they and other youth can see and be influenced by them. The goal is to put an end to youth smoking and other tobacco use.

In honor of the first annual SET Day, youth advocates of Reality Check New York here at Tobacco-Free CCA are showing (and telling) their community they’ve “Seen Enough Tobacco” all day with their online communities on social media and displays in the community. They will share scary facts on tobacco use, its marketing and its impact. The Fillmore Reality Check group painted the windows at the Fillmore Shop and Save to tell the community about the average age of when new smokers start. The hope is to shock the community about how early teens start smoking and build support for a county-wide Tobacco 21 Law.


According to the U. S. Surgeon General, “advertising and promotional activities by tobacco companies have been shown to cause the onset and continuation of smoking among adolescents and young adults.” The day is part of the overall statewide “Seen Enough Tobacco” initiative.

“We know that most adult tobacco smokers first tried tobacco as kids,” said Maansi Bansal-Travers, PhD, a research scientist with the Department of Health Behavior at Roswell Park Cancer Institute who focuses on tobacco advertising and promotion.  “Decreasing exposure to tobacco products and tobacco advertising is critical to decreasing youth smoking today.”

“The average age of a new smoker in New York State is 13,” said Reality Check member and Fillmore student Kaylee Willmart. “We need to make people in our community aware of this and take action.”


“Reality Check is a youth-led, adult supported movement,” said Reality Check coordinator for Tobacco-Free CCA, Jonathan Chaffee. “These youth work hard not only for ‘Seen Enough Tobacco Day,’ but every day to advocate for change and create a tobacco-free generation.”


Findings on youth tobacco use and tobacco industry marketing in places where children and young adolescents can see them indicate:

  • The average age of a new smoker is 13 years old, and 90 percent of adult smokers say they first tried smoking by age 18.
  • The U.S. tobacco industry spent an estimated $9.5 billion on advertising and promotion of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco in 2013. This includes nearly $220 million annually in New York State, or nearly $602,000 a day.
  • Stores popular among adolescents contain almost three times more tobacco marketing materials compared to other stores in the same community.

Community members are encouraged to attend Seen Enough Tobacco Day events, share photos on social media using #SeenEnoughTobacco and sign the Seen Enough Tobacco online petition at to pledge their support.

For more information please contact Reality Check Coordinator Jonathan Chaffee at

Domestic Violence Awareness Month


It has been estimated that 1 out of every 3 high school students has experienced emotional, physical, mental, or sexual abuse in a relationship. Identifying abuse can be a hard task for anyone, but because of the lack of relationship experience high schoolers have, it’s nearly impossible. Often times, things we consider to be love are actually abusive or controlling behaviors under the surface. Due to the increase in social media presence, these abusive behaviors can be watered down into ideas such as “Oh, they are just acting like that because they care.” Everyone deserves to be in a healthy relationship. It is important that we all take an active stand against dating violence to put an end to abuse and control. We can create the relationships that we all deserve!

What is a healthy relationship?

Healthy.RelationshipThere is no such thing as a perfect relationship, but there are relationships that are perfect most of the time. A healthy relationship is one that makes you feel good almost all of the time and generally bring you up, not down. Never in a relationship should you feel unsafe or invalidated. Feeling a lack of confidence or feeling unsupported by your partner may be a warning sign that there are unhealthy behaviors in your relationship. Click on the following link to learn more about the 10 characteristics of a healthy relationship.

Dynamics of an unhealthy relationship

Many times, abusive behaviors are used to gain power or control and can have a negative impact on your mental health or day to day life. In some cases, these unhealthy behaviors might escalate to violence. If you feel like something might be “off” in your relationship, trust your gut and get help. Click the following link to learn about the 10 Signs of an Unhealthy Relationship.


Where can I get help?

There are many resources in and around Allegany County that can help you.

ACCORD offers services for victims of domestic violence. These services include safety planning, help to file an Order of Protection, court advocacy and referrals to resources that could benefit you or a friend. The Domestic Violence Hotline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week- (800) 593-5322. Or you may contact ACCORD by visiting the ACCESS Center at 84 Schuyler Street, Belmont, NY, or by calling (585) 268-7605, Monday through Thursday from 8:00 am- 4:30 pm and on Fridays from 8:00 am- 3:30 pm.

You can also seek help with your school guidance counselor or any other trusted adult.

The most important thing is to seek help as soon as you feel you need it. You never know how far the abuse will escalate.

How do I talk to a friend who I think might be in an abusive relationship?

-Calmly start the conversation on a positive note

-Be supportive

-Focus on the unhealthy behaviors

-Keep the conversation friendly, not preachy

-Don’t place the blame on your friend

-Allow your friend to make their own decisions

-Offer solutions to your friend

-Expect more conversations in the future

If you feel like your friend is in immediate danger never hesitate to contact a trusted adult or law enforcement.

Lack of Funds, Doesn’t Mean Lack of Services

The drug that has been dominating the news recently, whether at national, state, or local level, is heroin. Heroin use became more popular as prescription opioids were more difficult to obtain from prescribers, which drove the street value of prescription opioids higher than heroin.  People abusing or who became addicted to prescription opioids turned to heroin as it became cheaper and more readily accessible. In September, Governor Cuomo announced that $25.2 million in federal funding will be used to expand initiatives in New York State to confront the opioid epidemic. Sixteen counties will share up to $16 million to increase access to treatment. Allegany County was not one of the counties chosen; Erie and Niagara Counties were chosen in Western New York.  The counties were designated as high needs, based on the number of opioid overdose deaths, hospitalizations involving opioids, and residents leaving the county to access addiction treatment services. This is unfortunate as more access to treatment is always a valuable resource to the community.

Comparison of the most recent Allegany County data shows that, in 2016, there were two deaths and ten emergency room visits due to opioid overdoses1, and zero deaths and twenty-two emergency room visits due to heroin overdoses.2 On the other hand, there were sixty-five injuries or deaths attributed to alcohol related motor vehicle accidents.3 This confirms that there are different substances being used at a dangerous level.

Even though Allegany County was not chosen as one of the sixteen counties to receive more funding for treatment services, there is still much that can be done in the way of prevention. Prevention initiatives focus on stopping people from becoming addicted to drugs. The first substance abuse prevention lessons that our young people receive occur in their schools from the Allegany Council’s Credentialed Prevention Professionals. They cover many topics including: healthy decisions, refusal skills, and education on alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. Topics of high importance are educating the young people of Allegany County on addiction and the progression of addiction.


One of the most successful initiatives in Allegany County dealing with prescription opioid abuse is the seven pill drop boxes throughout the county. These help keep prescription opioids off our streets and out of the hands of our young people. In 2016, the pill drop boxes and two pill drop events collected in excess of 1,112 pounds of medications. During that collection 24,061 pills were controlled substances. On October 28, 2017 between 10am to 2pm, the pill drop event will be held at Fillmore Pharmacy and Friendship Ambulance Squad.

Pill Drop Ad Fillmore-Friendship.2017

T21.LogoIn Allegany County, two of the first addictive drugs that young people are exposed to are alcohol and tobacco. Both of these products are legal, but also can be affected by policies that can be passed locally. The first policy that has been proposed for consideration is Tobacco Twenty-One, which has been supported by the Allegany County Board of Health. The purpose of this local policy is to curtail the easy access that teenagers currently have to eighteen-year-old peers in high school. This was first done in Needham, Massachusetts where, after five years, the teen smoking rate dropped by fifty percent. Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and eight other counties, including New York City, have already raised the minimum purchasing age for tobacco to twenty-one.



The second policy that has been discussed is a social host law, which exists in the village of Alfred. The purpose of a social host law is to eliminate the access that young people find in adults who host drinking parties for them. The previous two policies discussed help to change social norms of a community.



The other options could be licensing and zoning laws. Both of these affect the amount of businesses that can sell alcohol or tobacco in the county and where they are located. By limiting the amount of businesses that sell these products reduces availability. This will also limit the amount of marketing for these products which encourages young people to use them. A zoning law limits the location of these businesses. For example, tobacco retailers near schools have been found to have three times more advertising than other stores. All of the policy options discussed are evidence based, which means they are proven to be effective. Preventing our young people from becoming addicted to alcohol and tobacco means deterring them from starting down the road of addiction, which could lead to opioid abuse or heroin use in the future. For more information please visit

Remember Prevention Works!

1 This indicator includes all pharmaceutically and illicitly produced opioids such as fentanyl.

2 New York State – County Opioid Quarterly Report For Counties Outside of New York City; January 2017.

3 Tobacco, Alcohol and Other Substance Abuse Indicators – Allegany County 2012-2014.

National Falls Prevention Awareness Day


“Standing Together to Prevent Falls”

Fall is just around the corner, but falls shouldn’t be just around the corner for older adults.  That’s why Allegany County is joining communities from across 48 states to declare Falls Prevention Awareness Day on the first day of fall, September 22, 2017.

While falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injury for people 65 years of age and older, they are not an inevitable part of aging.  The 10th annual Fall Prevention Awareness Day theme, “10 Years Standing Together to Prevent Falls,” seeks to raise awareness about how to prevent fall-related injury among older adults.

The Allegany County Fall Prevention Collaborative was established in 2009 to combat the issue of falls in older adults.  “Allegany County has made major strides toward reducing the risks of unintentional injuries in older adults,” stated Melissa Biddle, Community Health Division Manager with Ardent Solutions.  “Recent data collected from the New York State Department of Health and the Health Foundation for Western & Central New York indicates a significant positive change in the rate of hospitalizations due to unintentional falls,” continued Biddle.

Studies show that a combination of interventions can significantly reduce falls among older adults. Experts recommend:

  • A physical activity regimen with balance, strength training, and flexibility components.
  • Consulting with a health professional about getting a fall risk assessment.
  • Having medications reviewed periodically.
  • Getting eyes checked annually.
  • Making sure the home environment is safe and supportive.
  • New research also suggests hearing loss should be routinely assessed

Programs like “A Matter of Balance: Managing Concerns About Falling” and Growing Stronger are held throughout Allegany County to help older adults gain strength, improve balance, and ensure confidence to live healthier lives and preserve their independence.

Older adults are invited to join Growing Stronger in any of our eleven convenient locations; including Andover, Angelica, Belfast, Belmont, Bolivar, Canaseraga, Cuba, Fillmore, Friendship and Wellsville (2). The weight bearing exercises are free to attend and are instructed by peers.  For more information, please call Melissa Biddle, Community Health Division Manager with Ardent Solutions, Inc. at 585-593-5223, ext. 1015.

Falls are not a part of the natural aging process.  Falls can be prevented. Remember Prevention Works!

Be a Family Day STAR!


Monday, September 25th, marks the 17th anniversary of Family Day: A Day to Eat Dinner with your Children.  Research by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University consistently finds that the more often children eat dinner with their families, the less likely they are to smoke, drink, or use other drugs.  Conversations during mealtime are a way for parents to stay connected and involved with their children.  Televisions, cell phones, and other mobile devices should be turned off during dinner so each person can share the day’s events without distractions.  This includes involving family members in prep and clean-up.  Trips in the vehicle can also be used as teachable, quality bonding time, as parents have a “captive” audience.

Teens are at greater risk of substance abuse as they move from middle school to high school, so, parents need to be especially attentive during this transition period.

If parents are unsure of how to start an age-appropriate conversation, they can access tips in the newly revised Parent Toolkit on the CASA Family Day website.  Other valuable information can also be found in the toolkit, such as “connecting” with kids, preventing substance use, background facts on substance use, family activities and worksheets, and tips for talking to kids about substance use.

Join parents nationwide and pledge to commit to:fooddaybadgeadjusted1

Spend time with your kids.

Talk to them about their friends, interests, and the dangers of using substances.

Answer their questions and listen to what they say.

Recognize that parents have the power to keep their kids substance-free!  Parental engagement makes a difference.

Remember prevention works!



What is Narcan?

Narcan(also known as Naloxone) is a medication that can reverse an overdose that is caused by an opioid drug. When administered during an overdose, Narcan blocks the effects of opioids on the brain and restores breathing within two to eight minutes.


Narcan has been used safely by emergency medical professionals for more than forty years and has one function: to reverse the effects of opioids on the brain and respiratory system in order to prevent death. Narcan has no potential for abuse and cannot be used to get high.

If Narcan is given to a person who is not experiencing an opioid overdose, it is harmless. If Narcan is administered to a person who is dependent on opioids, it will produce withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal, although uncomfortable, is not life threatening.

Narcan does not reverse overdoses that are caused by non-opioid drugs, such as cocaine, benzodiazepines, methamphetamines, or alcohol.


Examples of opiate drugs:

Opiates include both heroin and prescription pain medications. Some common opioid pain medications include: hydrocodone(Lorcet and Vicodin), oxycodone(Percocet), long acting opioids(Oxycotin, MS Contin, Methadone), and patches(Fentanyl). Other brand name opioid pain medication include Opana ER, Avinza, and Kadian.


How do I know if someone is overdoing?

A person who is experiencing an overdoes may have the following symptoms:

  • Breathing is slow and shallow(less than 10 breaths per minute) or has stopped.
  • Vomiting.
  • Face is pale and clammy.
  • Blue or grayish lips and fingernails.
  • Slow, erratic, or no pulse.
  • Choking or loud snoring noises.
  • Will not respond to shaking or sternum rub.
  • Skin may turn gray, blue, or ashen.

An overdose is a medical emergency! Call 9-1-1 immediately and begin first aid. 

Get Trained! Opioid Overdose Prevention Programs Directory


Naloxone Co-payment Assistance Program (N-CAP)

Naloxone(Narcan) is now available in more than 2,000 pharmacies throughout New York State. Individuals who are themselves at risk for an overdose or their family members or friends may acquire naloxone in these pharmacies without bringing in a prescription.

The New York State Department of Health AIDS Institute has an important pharmacy benefit for all New Yorkers who have prescription coverage through their health insurance plans: the Naloxone Co-payment Assistance Program (N-CAP). The key elements of this program are:

  • Co-payments for naloxone in an amount up to $40 for each prescription dispensed will be billed to N-CAP, not to the individual getting naloxone.
  • Individuals who are themselves at risk for an overdose or their family members may acquire naloxone using a patient specific prescription, or through a standing order at over 2000 pharmacies in NYS.
  • No individual enrollment is necessary.
  • Pharmacies participating in the New York State AIDS Drug Assistance Program are eligible to participate in N-CAP.
  • There are no or lower out-of-pocket expenses when getting naloxone at a participating pharmacy.
  • Only the following naloxone formulations are eligible for N-CAP coverage:
    • Narcan® nasal spray (4mg/01 mL); NDC 69547-0353-02
    • Naloxone used for intranasal administration (1 mg/1 mL in 2 mL Luer-Jet pre-filled glass syringes); NDC 76329-3369-01
    • Naloxone for intramuscular injection (0.4 mg/mL in 1 mL single-dose vials); NDCs 00409-1215-01, 67457-0292-02, and 00641-6132-25
  • Your primary health care coverage may limit the monthly amount of naloxone that will be covered.

Naloxone Co-Payment Assistance Program Flyer

Statewide Directory of Pharmacies Dispensing Naloxone with Standing Orders


Gambling Can Become a Problem

Many people have had the dream of “winning it big” that would allow them to quit work early in life and live the American Dream free and clear. Recently this has been perpetuated more on television with the forty-eighth World Series of Poker that was aired on ESPN.  More than seven thousand entrants attempted to win over sixty-seven million dollars in prize money. New York State’s own marketing slogan for its lotto is “Hey, You Never Know,” which can be seen on television multiple times a day. These types of shows and marketing makes gambling seem like a reasonable way to make a living or win life changing money.

Gambling has been part of the human lifestyle from playing cards to Bingo, to horse racing to filling out NCAA March Madness Tournaments brackets. People can participate in these activities to be social, fulfill their competitive spirit, or help raise money for a good cause. These may be harmless participations in gambling activities. It’s when participation in these events takes away from other responsibilities or activities in life that gambling becomes a problem.

Problem gambling is a type of addiction that can affect anyone. Just like drinking alcohol or using drugs, gambling can become an addiction by altering the gambler’s mood and the gambler keeps repeating the behavior, attempting to achieve that same feeling.  Gamblers can build a tolerance just like people who drink or use drugs, which causes them to crave the experience and gamble more often and with higher stakes.

Problem gambling includes all behaviors that compromise, disrupt, or damage personal, family or employment pursuits. Essentials of problem gambling include:

  • Increasing preoccupation with gambling.
  • Needing to bet more money more frequently.
  • Restlessness or irritability when trying to stop “chasing” losses.
  • Loss of control manifested by continuation of gambling behavior in spite of mounting, serious, negative consequences.

Know-the-odds-orgIn extreme cases, problem gambling can result in financial ruin, legal problems, loss of career and family, or even suicide. For more information on the signs of a problem gambler, visit To get help, call 1-877—8-HOPENY(467369).



E-Cigarettes are NOT harmless.

No matter what you call them: e-cigarettes, vape pens, e-hookahs, mods, tanks, e-pipes, electronic nicotine delivery systems(ENDS), or electronic aerosol delivery systems(EADS) they all have the same purpose: to simulate using a regular tobacco product.


E-cigarettes were first marketed as a product that was to be used as a cessation device to help people quit smoking traditional tobacco products and the vapor was made up of water. We now know that e-cigarette vape is more than water vapor and does contain carcinogens and other dangerous chemicals. The amount of carcinogens in e-cigarette vape is less than regular cigarette smoke, which allows for the marketing of e-cigarettes as “less harmful.”  “Less harmful” still means they are harmful. It has been recommended that if daily smokers would switch from regular cigarettes to just using e-cigarettes it would be healthier for them. But, studies have shown that most people end up using both products, which does not help their health and usually increases their nicotine intake per day, making it harder to quit in the long term.

The other major concern with the popularity of these products is that the youth rate of using e-cigarettes has exploded. In 2016 the high school rate of smoking regular cigarettes has dropped to an all- time low of 4.3% in New York State, but e-cigarette use amongst high schoolers has risen to 20.6%. In Allegany County these rates are 8.2% for cigarette use and 43.5% for e-cigarettes among high schoolers.

There are many reasons that e-cigarettes are popular with youth:

  • Availability of different flavors.
  • Ability to do tricks.
  • Thought of NOT being dangerous compared to regular tobacco products.
  • Marketing on tv, magazines, internet, social media, and in stores.
  • E-cigarettes have replaced cigarettes as a way of making a social statement.
  • Being part of a subculture and not part of mainstream society.

Most people will argue that they would rather have their son or daughter use an e-cigarette instead of traditional cigarettes, but studies have shown that young people who use e-cigarettes are over eight times more likely to transition to traditional cigarettes after one year than non-users of e-cigarettes.  Some e-juice also contains nicotine, which is highly addictive and changes the development of the adolescent brain, which does not stop maturing until age twenty-five.

One big step in the right direction is that New York State’s Assembly and Senate has passed adding e-cigarettes to the Clean Indoor Air Act. If a product is going to be used or deemed okay to use, one should know about that product. More information can be found at

Remember, Prevention Works!

Reality Check Youth Summit

new_rc_logo_finalJuly is always a month full of celebration, we are celebrating our country on July 4th or newly graduated young people. July is also a month that Reality Check members from across New York State come together at Youth Summit and celebrate accomplishments in their local communities. These accomplishments could include getting a municipality’s parks to become tobacco free, a housing complex to pass a smoke free policy for all of their apartments, or a county to raise the age to purchase tobacco from eighteen to twenty-one. All of these types of accomplishments focus on one thing tobacco.

Tobacco use is still the leading cause of preventable death in the world. Over 28,000 New Yorkers die each year from their own smoking, This 28,000 does not include the people who are nonsmokers and their health is affected by being exposed to secondhand smoke. There are twelve types of cancer related to tobacco use, but what a lot of people do not realize is that smoking can also cause heart disease, stroke, and diabetes among other things.

Brain.SmokerTobacco use in teens can be more detrimental by exposing youth to the very addictive drug known as nicotine. Nicotine is usually the first addictive drug that youth experience, which activates receptors in the brain releasing dopamine to give them the feeling of pleasure and reward, which can lead to trying other drugs that create this same feeling. Nicotine is also known to change how the adolescent brain develops. These changes increase: risk-taking, impulsivity, and vulnerability to initiation and subsequent addiction to drugs. Nicotine exposure to an adolescent brain also can cause incomplete development of the pre-frontal cortex, which controls decision making, impulse control and executive function.

Tobacco.Money.BurningTobacco use also hits the pocket book. Annual healthcare cost in New York State caused by smoking is over $10,000,000,000. Medicaid cost caused by smoking in New York State is over $6,000,000,000. This means that residents of New York State pay $1,462.00 per household in state and federal taxes due to smoking-caused government expenditures. Finally, productivity loss in New York State caused by smoking is over $7,000,000,000.

As you can see from what you have read previously, tobacco use affects everyone in some way. For these previous issues, the work that Reality Check youth does across the state is a reason to celebrate. These youth are taking an active role in their communities and participating in making it a healthier place to live for all community members. For more information on Reality Check visit or follow your local Reality Check on Facebook and Instagram at RealityCheckJon.

National ASK(Ask Saves Kids) Day

Ask.Day.LogoThe ASK (Asking Saves Kids) Campaign promotes a simple idea with the potential to help keep kids safe. ASK, “Is there an unlocked gun in your house?” before sending your child over to play. According to ASK, one out of three American homes with children has a gun, and nearly 1.7 million children live in a home with a loaded, unlocked gun. Every year thousands of kids are killed and injured as a result. We hear about this in the news all the time.
As a concerned community member and mom/stepmom to five amazing children, I don’t want to imagine my life with them being hurt emotionally or physically. My biological daughter lives with us full time. She is getting to know classmates in her new school and is looking forward to spending time with them over the summer. My husband and I have a rule that we meet the parents of her friends before allowing her to spend time at their home.

According to Kids Safe Foundation, there are seven questions every parent should ask before a play date/sleepover:

  1. Who will be watching the children?
  2. Do you have older children and will they or their friends be present?
  3. Do you have a gun in your house?
  4. What safety rules do you have in your house?
  5. Will you be staying at your house? What is the plan?
  6. Is the TV and internet use monitored?
  7. What are the sleeping arrangements?

National Ask Kids Day is the perfect time to ask your children specific questions about their friends, their friends’ parents, and the safety of the homes they spend time in. I would love to be with our children everywhere they go, but it’s not reality. Between school, sports, child care, church, and social events, there are countless opportunities for unsafe situations to present themselves. It is our job as parents to prepare our kids with proactive conversations and open the doors of communication.

One topic that can be especially scary for parents is personal safety and body boundaries. When it comes to protecting our children, certain conversations are easy and even natural to have. “Stranger Danger” is a term we all know, but when 95% of molested children know their perpetrator, teaching them about “tricky people” is much more effective.

What do I mean by tricky people? Janelle Durham, social worker, childbirth educator, co-author, and curriculum designer, goes into substantial detail about this in her blog article Teaching about “Tricky People” vs. “Stranger Danger”.  Thankfully there are reliable resources available to help us understand and incorporate these concepts when discussing safety with our children, such as SAFE Hearts by Damsel in Defense.

But I digress. Huffington Post reports since the ASK Campaign was launched in 2000, there are now “900 fewer children and teenagers killed with guns each year. The same report also shows that unintentional gun deaths among children ages 19 and younger have decreased by more than a third — down 42 percent since 1999.” Teaching our children about safety – all forms of it – is vital to a healthy community.

What will you do to make a difference? 

 National ASK Day is coming up next Wednesday, June 21. They will hold “The World’s Largest Playdate” in communities across the country to bring attention to the dangers of youth access to guns in the home. If you would like to be part of that effort or to join Brady, the Million Mom March, and the growing list of organizations committed to making our children safer, pledge to add your voice at

By RaChelle Glauser-Sharpe