Riverhead High School students Brady Reynolds, Gianna Viola, Jack McCormick and Connor Bobinski placed brightly colored stickers on each pizza box at Carlo’s Pizza Oven in Riverhead. Also participating but not pictured: Colton Bobinski. Courtesy photo: Tobacco Action Coalition of Long Island

Customers at Carlo’s Pizza will soon be getting “sticker shock” with their pizza orders.

Organized by the Riverhead Youth Coalition, Riverhead students placed brightly colored stickers on each pizza box at Carlo’s Pizza Oven in Riverhead — a favorite student eatery.

One sticker highlights the legal consequences for adults when they provide alcohol to minors.

The other sticker is from the “It’s Not Just” campaign, which aims to educate kids and parents about the dangers of menthol-flavored tobacco.

Courtesy photo: Tobacco Action Coalition of Long Island

The sticker messages are a joint campaign by the Tobacco Action Coalition of Long Island and Riverhead Community Awareness Program. The groups have teamed up to raise awareness of the dangers tobacco and alcohol use pose to the community’s youth.

“We’re educating our communities about the tobacco industry’s historically inequitable marketing and promotion of menthol-flavored tobacco products,” said Paulette Orlando, Community Engagement Specialist, Tobacco Action Coalition of Long Island.

“More than half of youth ages 12-17 who smoke use menthol cigarettes. And those who start smoking with menthol cigarettes are most likely to become addicted and become long-term daily smokers. Sadly, menthol is easier to start and harder to quit,” Orlando said in a press release.

Riverhead CAP Community Prevention Specialist Cynthia Redmond said the “Sticker Shock” campaign has proven to be an effective way to get the message out to the community about how adults play an essential role in preventing and reducing youth substance use.

“As per the Suffolk County Social Host Law, adults over the age of 18, who knowingly allow underage drinking to take place in their home or provide alcohol face penalties which include up to one year in jail and/or a $1000 fine,” Redmond said.

Riverhead CAP is pleased to partner with Tobacco Action Coalition of Long Island to raise awareness about menthol tobacco and vape products in this multifaceted campaign, Redmond said. “Tobacco Action Coalition of Long Island is an important community partner and has been instrumental in educating young people and the community about this public health issue,” she said.

“I like doing sticker shock because it is fun and we get to reach out to people and educate them. We are connecting with people we would not normally reach. This may help them make better choices,” said Jack McCormick, an 11th grade Riverhead Youth Coalition member at Riverhead High School.

Peter Kurzyna, owner of Carlos Pizza Oven, and a Riverhead High School graduate himself, is a longstanding supporter of Riverhead CAP and has continually welcomed the students and Sticker Shock campaign into his business for years.

Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death in New York. Every year approximately 4,300 New Yorkers under 18 become daily smokers, Tobacco Action Coalition of Long Island said in the press release. In addition, menthol tobacco products have been disproportionately marketed to Black communities for decades, the group said. A a result, the tobacco industry has profited from the creation of generations of long-term nicotine addiction and devastating health consequences, according to Tobacco Action Coalition of Long Island.

Riverhead CAP has been the leading agency in the prevention of drug and alcohol use among youth in Riverhead Central School District for more than 40 years.

As a result of its strong community partnerships, Riverhead CAP continues to grow its exceptional level of service through advocacy, education, counseling, and evidence-based programs, the press release said.

The Tobacco Action Coalition of LI is one of 21 Advancing Tobacco Free Communities’ grants funded by the NYS DOH’s Bureau of Tobacco Control and administered by the American Lung Association.

“Our grant is comprised of a community engagement and youth action component, Reality Check, who work collaboratively to promote environments open to creating a tobacco-free norm as well as educating and empowering our youth to become change agents within their communities,” the coalition said.

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