Western New York Reality Check Names Student Art Contest Winners to Celebrate Great American Smokeout 2020

In coordination with this year’s Great American Smokeout (GASO), more than 30 students responded to honor the national event, observed today, November 19, this year. The Reality Check art contest focused on the dangers of tobacco use. Artists were encouraged to depict why they want their communities to establish a tobacco-free policy.

Students could submit art as a poster, comic, photo, video, or poem. The winning artwork was selected by Reality Check youth coordinators based upon creativity, use of messaging and originality.

Warsaw High School youth artist Payton was named the first-place winner of the poster contest. Her art depicted a person in the foreground being snuffed out with a giant cigarette with the headline: “Put It Out Before It Puts You Out.” The strong messaging and the lifelike image of the hand struck the jury. Second prize was awarded to Jerzie, a student at Falconer High School, who portrayed a tombstone of her great grandmother with the headline, “I Never Knew You Because Of Cigarettes.” Southwestern Middle School youth artist Meredith poster had the message of “Don’t You Recognize Me Anymore” which shows a smoking skeleton with black lungs.

Selena, of Fillmore Central was awarded first place in the poem category for a piece titled,

“Smoke Out.”

All forms of tobacco are bad.

Sometimes they can make you sad.

What’s the point of ruining your life.

You don’t want to kill the wildlife.

Cigarette butts pollute the earth.

And they affect birth.

Ask for help.

Before you ruin what’s in your scalp.

Kyra, of the Olean High School was awarded first place for video category by depicting nicotine addiction and health issues through dinosaurs.

“Talented students from across the region responded to our art contest, which made judging a challenge,” said Jonathan Chaffee, Reality Check Coordinator of Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Allegany. “I hope the efforts of our students will inspire others to think about the health impacts of tobacco use, refrain from littering cigarette butts and vape pods, and protect our community members, as well as spaces where we all live, work and play, for generations to come.”

The American Cancer Society Great American Smokeout is an annual event that encourages and offers support to smokers to who plan to quit smoking or to quit smoking on the day of the event – Thursday, November 19. By quitting – even for one day – smokers will be taking an important step toward a healthier life and reducing their cancer risk.

With COVID-19 concerns, there has never been a better time to quit. Smoking harms nearly every organ in the body, including the lungs. In addition to causing lung cancer, smoking also makes chronic lung disease worse and increases the risk of severe illness from infections like pneumonia and the flu. Adults who smoke have an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19, as well.

Reality Check is a teen-led, adult-run program that seeks to prevent and decrease tobacco use among young people throughout New York State.

For more information about Reality Check, visit realitycheckofny.org.