Youth are important in the fight against the manipulative and deceptive marketing practices of the tobacco industry! This year in 2023, youth from around the country came together in Washington D.C. to protest an industry that has long influenced them to use deadly tobacco products. During the week of May 15th, over 100 youth and adults from youth groups and organizations in over 10 states gathered in D.C. to learn from one another, mobilize, and rally against one of the largest tobacco companies, Altria.

Reality Check, a youth group out of New York state, hosts this annual event to bring everyone together to Mobilize Against Tobacco Lies (MATL).

For the last few years, this MATL event was held virtually, but everyone was able to come back in-person this time around. These efforts in D.C. included meet-and-greets, activities, trainings, sightseeing, and culminated with a rally against Altria on May 18th.

This rally was held right in front of the Altria lobbyist office, and all the youth stood with signs and chants to make sure their voices were heard.

As Altria had its annual shareholders meeting, these youth had their own message during the rally. One of the key messages was all flavors should be removed in all tobacco products and for all people.

On May 17th, Counter Tools conducted a training for the youth on the importance of policy and advocating for flavored tobacco product bans. We also had a presence during the rally and throughout the activities during the week.

We want to give a shout out to all the groups participating for their efforts. It was amazing to see people come together for this important cause! These youth spoke out against targeting by the tobacco industry, and made it known through their booming voices and boisterous words, that they will not be pawns in the tobacco industry’s efforts to recruit and retain tobacco users.

We will all come back together next year to continue this momentum and show the tobacco industry we cannot be fooled! To hear more about these efforts, check out our podcast. If you want to learn more about Reality Check and provide support, go to and