Reality Check and Bassett Healthcare Team Up to Dispel Vaping Myths

Written By Editor on 6/10/19 | 6/10/19

Bonnie Peck, Reality Check/Youth Engagement Coordinator with Advancing Tobacco Free Communities in Delaware, Otsego and Schoharie Counties and Hannah Pizza, nurse practitioner with the Middleburgh Healthy Zone- Bassett Healthcare’s school-based health program recently teamed up to help dispel vaping myths among Middleburgh school students. At the invitation of Matthew Sloane, Middleburgh Junior and Senior High School Principal, the duo set out to educate students and staff in grades 7-12 about the facts surrounding vaping and the use of e-cigarettes.

Schools and communities throughout New York State and the country are dealing with the epidemic of e-cigarette use among young people.  E-cigarette use among high school youth has soared 160 percent in just four years. This dramatic increase in e-cig use among youth is unprecedented among trends in youth substance use. E-cigs are now used by a third of the high school population nationally.

Ms. Peck shared how the tobacco industry’s marketing of e-cigarettes/vapes has attracted many youth to become replacement tobacco users as well as guinea pigs with the new and emerging nicotine products. Reality Check works to reduce the prevalence of youth smoking and tobacco product sales to minors by decreasing the impact of retail tobacco product marketing on youth. The program also educates about tobacco imagery in the media and its influence on youth tobacco use.

Ms. Peck indicated that e-cigarettes including vapes and JUULs are not regulated by the FDA, are not harmless and have not been proven to be a safer alternative to cigarettes. “The aerosol produced by e-cigarettes is not water vapor, but a mixture of chemicals like nicotine, formaldehyde and acrolein with some heavy metals. Don’t be fooled by e-juice and JUUL pods with fruity flavors because most e-cigarettes contain nicotine,” according to Ms. Peck. One JUUL pod contains the equivalent nicotine of twenty traditional cigarettes and the flavorings are not safe to be inhaled into the lungs.

Ms. Pizza emphasized that e-cigarettes and even combustible cigarettes are not the way to deal with anxiety or depression. She said, “Nicotine exposure during adolescence can cause addiction and can harm the developing adolescent brain. Confidential cessation assistance is available from the school-based, on-site primary care health clinic and there is a health educator for smoking cessation based at the Bassett Healthcare Clinic in Cobleskill.” Ms. Pizza urged the teens to get support to help kick their vaping habits.

Principal Sloan stated that life is about choices and educating students and staff about the health effects of vaping is critical. “While educational assemblies will not eliminate vaping use, hopefully the information presented will deter any student who has not tried to avoid that first attempt and possibly change the minds of some.”

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Reality Check to Host World No Tobacco Day at Crossgates

Written By Editor on 5/25/19 | 5/25/19

Youth and adults are invited to Crossgates Mall in the Albany suburb of Westmere, New York on Saturday, June 1, 2019 to play “Tobacco Trouble” – an interactive, life-sized board game hosted by Reality Check youth from the greater Capital Region.  Reality Check youth will observe World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) by educating community members about tobacco marketing tactics, youth tobacco use, and the benefits of tobacco-free outdoor areas.  “Tobacco Trouble”, and other educational activities, will be set up adjacent to Lucky Strike Social from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Each individual who plays “Tobacco Trouble” will qualify to win a $25 Lucky Strikes coupon towards bowling and shoes. 

Local Reality Check youth participating in the World No Tobacco Day activities at Crossgates include Jasmine Neill and Ava Valetutto from Sharon Springs Central School as well as Gabe Oakley, Zachary Smoot, Lana Rockwell and Arianna Mosenson from Cherry Valley-Springfield Central School. Danielle Viscosi, a junior at UAlbany and a Reality Check alumnus from Cherry Valley, will share her experiences with tobacco-free advocacy in the form of a workshop for current Reality Check youth. Since 2001, Reality Check youth have been working across New York State to expose the manipulative and deceptive marketing tactics of the tobacco industry, to produce change in local communities, to show youth that they are more than just replacement smokers, and to empower youth to become leaders in their communities. 

Crossgates Mall became a tobacco-free property on World No Tobacco Day, May 31, in 2012. Every year, on May 31, the World Health Organization (WHO) marks “World No Tobacco Day” (WNTD) highlighting the health risks associated with tobacco use and advocating for effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption. WNTD 2019 is focusing on the multiple ways that exposure to tobacco negatively affects the health of people’s lungs worldwide.

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County DPW Official, Schoharie Councilman Arrested

Written By Timothy Knight on 1/4/19 | 1/4/19

County DPW Official, Schoharie Councilman Arrested
By Timothy Knight

Two Schoharie residents with significant positions in local government were arrested over the past twenty-four hours as part of a New York State Police investigation.

Investigators based out of the Latham Troop G barracks arrested Benjamin Cooper, age 45, on multiple felonies on Thursday, January 3rd. 

Mr. Cooper, who is a Public Works Administrator in the Schoharie County Department of Public Works, was charged with Criminal Possession of Stolen Property 4th Degree, Falsifying Business Records 1st Degree, and Conspiracy 5th Degree, with the last of the charges being a misdemeanor. 

Additionally, James P. Schultz was arrested on the morning of Friday, January 4th, when he surrendered himself to State Police. Mr. Schultz, age 37, is a member of the Schoharie Town Board and he was charged with Conspiracy 5th Degree. 

According to a press release issued by the State Police, the arrests stem from an investigation which began after a former tenant of Mr. Schultz reported that his vehicle was missing to the Schoharie County Sheriff's Office.

After further investigation, the vehicle was located in a local scrap metal yard in the City of Albany. The Schoharie County Sheriff's Office turned the case over to the New York State Police Investigators in Latham.

Both men were issued appearance tickets to appear in the City of Albany Court on Thursday, January 17th, 2019.

Mr. Cooper, whose son Cody serves on the Schoharie Town Board alongside Mr. Schultz, was named the 2018 Schoharie County Republican of the Year in May. 
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