Champaign-Urbana Public Health District


REALITY Illinois was a statewide teen advocacy program that focused on tobacco and e-cigarette policy change. The program utilized a curriculum called Engaging Youth for Positive Change (EYPC), which aims to empower teens to get involved in local government and advocate for causes they care about.

CUPHD facilitated REALITY Illinois in area middle and high schools from 2015- 2019. While we no longer facilitate REALITY, we do still facilitate EYPC with local youth in the community.


Engaging Youth for Positive Change (EYPC) is a curriculum that encourages youth to create policy change that they would like to see in their community, in order to create a healthier environment for themselves and the whole community. This program was developed by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the Center for Prevention Research & Development. EYPC targets youth ages 13-18 to become involved in civic engagement, and to create and advocate for public health policies. CUPHD facilitates this program as part of our Illinois Tobacco-free Communities Program and works with local youth on addressing tobacco-related policies. If you are interested in EYPC, please email Anna Johnson at

Reality smoking prevention

For more information about the Engaging Youth for Positive Change curriculum and our 2018 REALITY group, watch this promotional video:

School Tobacco Use Codes

According to the National Youth Tobacco Survey from 2019 and 2020, e-cigarette products are the most used form of tobacco among youth in the United States. These products contain nicotine, which can be addicting and is especially harmful on the developing adolescent brain. Therefore, it is crucial that schools have a tobacco use code in place where enforcement of the policy includes educational and behavioral components. Research has shown that punitive measures can contribute to negative educational and life outcomes and do not help the student to quit using the product. If you need assistance with your school’s tobacco use code, please email either Kami Lafoon at or Anna Johnson at ajohnson@c-

Tobacco product use among high school students

Recommendations for schools

  • Enforcing tobacco policy violations with punitive measures, such as detention or suspension, do not address the root cause of the problem- addiction to e-cigarettes. Instead, we want to promote alternative educational and behavioral measures fore enforcement. Nicotine is often found in these products and is an addictive substance. We believe it is best to provide educational support and cessation resources to students.
  • CATCH My Breath is a program designed to teach youth about the health and social effects of cigarette use, misconceptions about e-cigarettes, laws and regulations regarding tobacco and e-cigarettes.
  • The CDC has stated the most effective approach for helping youth quit tobacco are counseling and education.4
  • The Public Health Law Center has a model policy for schools that can serve as a guide (this is specific to Minnesota, but can be modified for local school districts)6
  • The American Lung Association has two programs that we recommend schools utilize:
    • INDEPTH : Free, educational program available to schools or other community organizations. It is intended to serve as an alternative to punitive measures.
    • N-O-T (Not on Tobacco) : Evidence-based teen smoking and vaping cessation program.
American Lung Association

1. urgeon General’s Report on E-cigarette Use Among Youth & Young Adults
2. CDC's Youth Tobacco Use Infographics
3. Public Health Law Center's Commercial Tobacco-Free K-12 School Model Policy