Reality Check

Reality Check is a statewide program designed for youth between the ages of 13 and 18, focused on tobacco control initiatives. The program is student-led, adult-supported, and its aim is to reduce the number of teens that initiate smoking by exposing the tobacco industry. Students who join NYC Smoke-Free’s Reality Check program participate and lead activities and events.

Currently, more than 13,000 of NYC public high school students smoke, and as a result, one-third of them will die prematurely. Additionally, the growing e-cig/vaping epidemic has swept the country, and 45,000 public high school students in NYC reported e-cig/vape product usage in 2017. NYC Smoke-Free remains committed to ensuring that the next generation is smoke-free by continuously engaging in ongoing efforts to build and maintain a youth infrastructure that encourages community and civic engagement, as well as peer leadership.

Although NYC has achieved many great successes in tobacco control over the years, we aim to keep up with the tobacco industry’s changing strategies to get young people to smoke and become “replacement smokers.” NYC Smoke-Free works with students on several tobacco control initiatives aimed at (1) reducing and ending the proliferation of tobacco retail, (2) eliminating tobacco imagery in youth-rated movies and youth-focused internet sites, and (3) increasing both indoor and outdoor smoke-free spaces to eliminate harmful exposure to secondhand smoke.

With NYC Smoke-Free Reality Check, students will…

  • Develop leadership skills with opportunities to work with peers across the state
  • Strengthen public speaking abilities
  • Build confidence and enhance teamwork skills while meeting new friends
  • Engage legislators on issues that affect youth across the country
  • Find a safe place to explore interests and utilize talents to advocate for a cause
  • Discover a world full of fun experiences and new activities
  • Fulfill service requirements to attract prospective colleges and universities
  • Create multimedia projects to educate communities and the nation.

Download Reality Check Contact Info


  • STEP ONE – Contact your borough Youth Engagement Coordinator to set up an interest meeting.
  • STEP TWO – Organize a recruitment meeting with prospective students.
  • STEP THREE – Allow students to utilize their creative talents to engage peers and educate on smoke-free topics. Follow the NYC Smoke-Free program tool kit.


  • Over 21,000 public high school students currently smoke.
  • One-third of current student smokers will die prematurely.
  • Most adult smokers admit to initiating smoking before age 18.


  • To educate students and expose the misleading marketing campaigns of the tobacco industry.
  • To help students cultivate strong leadership in their community.
  • To advance students advocacy skills and convey community awareness


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Overexposed: Big Tobacco's Advertising Saturation Around New York City Schools

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Putting Prevention to Work in New York City: Tobacco Control at the Community Level

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Student Smoke-Free Toolkit

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NYC Smoke-Free Housing Tool Kit for Landlords and Managing Agents

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