Reality Check and Tobacco-Free CNY Host Smoke-Free Movie Event

ONONDAGA COUNTY, MARCH 11, 2024 – On March 2, 2024, the Reality Check and Tobacco-Free CNY initiatives in Onondaga, Cayuga, and Oswego Counties collaborated to host a smoke-free movie event at the Palace Theatre in Syracuse, NY. The Reality Check team, composed of dedicated seniors from ITC High School, delivered a compelling speech on the negative effects of tobacco scenes in media, earning a round of applause from the audience. The event was a success, drawing over 100 community members in attendance.

The purpose of the event was to educate the community about the influence of tobacco imagery on screen, especially among youth.  Research indicates that when children are exposed to smoking scenes in movies, it can increase the likelihood of them experimenting with tobacco or nicotine products. This is because tobacco scenes in entertainment and pop culture can make smoking and vaping seem normal, and even appear glamorous. A study conducted by Truth Initiative in 2020 revealed that watching streaming shows containing smoking scenes might triple the chances of youth starting to vape.

In an effort to create positive change, members of Reality Check collected signatures both before and after screening the movie. Their goal was to urge the Motion Picture Association to assign an “R” rating to youth-oriented films featuring tobacco and e-cigarette imagery. Oro Hasan, a member of Reality Check, expressed pride in their initiative, stating “I thought the event was really impactful. A lot of the adults were very interested in giving their signatures when I explained what the cause was for. One lady even said she would sign a thousand if it meant that smoking wouldn’t be shown in children’s movies/TV shows.”

Before the movie, members of Reality Check hosted engaging activities in the lobby, offering games, educational materials, and valuable resources. The trivia game provided attendees with important statistics on the impact of tobacco, allowing them to learn key facts. Reality Check member Khoudia Cisse noted “Many people didn’t know about some significant facts regarding smoking, like 90% of adult smokers started before they were 18. Thanks to the smoke-free movie event, they got to learn this.” Reality Check member Miranda Azemi added “It’s vital to educate others on the impact that smoking on screen has on youth. Young consumers of film and online content are susceptible to believing what they see on screen is normal or even enjoyable. Education is the best prevention of young smoking because it teaches guardians to be wary of what they allow children to watch.”

Reality Check is a statewide, youth-led group that empowers members to speak out about the deceptive marketing practices of the tobacco industry. For more information about Reality Check, visit Tobacco-Free CNY works to reduce illness, disability and death related to tobacco use and secondhand smoke exposure, and to alleviate the social and economic burdens caused by tobacco use.  For more information about Tobacco-Free CNY programs, visit