GLOVERSVILLE - A group of high school students has teamed up with two local anti-tobacco groups to create a short educational film that will be distributed throughout the state.
Project ACTION Tobacco-Free Coalition and Reality Check of Hamilton, Fulton and Montgomery counties worked with students from Gloversville High School and Fonda-Fultonville High School to produce the film about in-store promotions of tobacco products.
In the film, the students visit a Gloversville convenience store across the street from an elementary school to find its facade dotted with tobacco advertisements, some at the same eye level of children.
Realty Check Coordinator Justin Hladik said the video will be shown at the organization's statewide summit and be distributed to different organizations throughout the state.
Hladik said the video's message is important because "most smokers start before the age of 18."
"They [tobacco companies] know who they're going after," Hladik said. "We're not against retailers. We understand they want to make a dime, but it's not right."
From left, teacher and Positive Options Project adviser
Stephanie Cook and students Deven LaPorta, Victoria Chapin and Shaun Lawton watch their video about tobacco advertising.
The Leader-Herald/Amanda Whistle
He noted that in Canada, stores keep tobacco out of sight and warning packs are very graphic. The Food & Drug Administration has proposed similar packaging in the United States.
"It's the only product that when used correctly, it'll kill you," he said.
The film's first showing was in the Fulton County Chamber of Commerce & Industry on Wednesday. It also is scheduled to go viral this week on YouTube. Its release coincides with today's American Cancer Society's "Great American Smokeout," when smokers are asked to quit for the day and devise a plan to quit smoking. The annual event began in 1977, when cigarette smoking was more widespread, allowed on airplanes, in restaurants and in many workplaces.
On this day, smokers are asked to quit for the day and devise a plan to quit smoking.
ProjectACTION Director Rebecca Guarino said the group was happy with the professionalism of the film and the students involved.
"We want to get the word out about tobacco marketing and how it influences youth to smoke, and this video is a great way to do that," Guarino said.
For many of the Gloversville High School students involved with the Positive Options Project group at the school, the anti-tobacco message hits close to home, as many have relatives who died after being diagnosed with smoking-related diseases.
The school club, which was formed two years ago, stays active during the summer and goes to events like Railfest to spread their message.
"I feel so strongly that young people need us to show them a positive example," said Stephanie Cook, the group's adviser.
Gloversville High School seniors Victoria Chapin, Deven LaPorta and sophomore Shaun Lawton, were at the screening and were proud of the video, especially since they said they see people who under the age of 18 smoking frequently.
Kellie Lawton and Chelsea Baldwin from Gloversville weren't able to attend the screening, but also took part, along with Fonda-Fultonville students Samantha Dopp, Casey Eliot and Jon Licht.
Chapin and LaPorta said that graduating leaving the group - which they've been a part of since its start - will be bittersweet.
"It's sad leaving. I've been to every meeting," said Chapin.
The students said they enjoyed making the video, which was shot in Gloversville, and were excited to be part of a message they believe in and that's going to be spread to other teens across the state.
"A small town can make a huge difference," LaPorta said.
Amanda Whistle covers Gloversville news. She can be reached at gloversville @leaderherald.com.