REALITY Illinois is a statewide teen advocacy program that focuses on tobacco and e-cigarette policy change. The program utilizes a curriculum called Engaging Youth for Positive Change, which aims to empower teens to get involved in local government and advocate for causes they care about.
CUPHD has been facilitating REALITY Illinois in area middle and high schools since the 2014-2015 school year.
2015 – JW Eater Junior High School 8th graders presented for the Rantoul Park District board and passed an ordinance prohibiting smoking within 50 feet of playgrounds in Rantoul.
2016 – JW Eater National Honor Society students created tobacco counter-marketing ads to distribute for display in local businesses.
2017 – JW Eater NHS students presented to the Rantoul Village Board advocating to raise the sales age of tobacco to 21.
2018 – Centennial High School’s senior government class advocated for an e-cigarette ordinance at a Champaign City Council meeting (photo below).
In 2019, Centennial High School seniors will work on strengthening their school’s tobacco code to address the rise in teen e-cigarette use.
For more information about the Engaging Youth for Positive Change curriculum and our 2018 REALITY group, watch this promotional video:
According to the United States Surgeon General e-cigarette products are now the most commonly used tobacco form among youth in the United States.1 These products contain nicotine which can be addicting and can harm the developing adolescent brain. Therefore, it is extremely important 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.2
1. urgeon General’s Report on E-cigarette Use Among Youth & Young Adults
2. Public Health Law Center: Addressing Student Commercial Tobacco Use in Schools: Alternative Measures
3. CDC's Youth Tobacco Use Infographics
4. How to Help Adolescents Quit Smoking
5. Public Health Law Center's Commercial Tobacco-Free K-12 School Model Policy