DATE:  May 7, 2019
FOR RELEASE: Immediately
CONTACT: Sherri Stayer, Executive Director
Phone: 814.946.2845

Lung Disease Foundation and TRU Groups Participate In Tobacco 21 Day at the Capitol

The Lung Disease Foundation of Central Pennsylvania, along with several TRU (Tobacco Resistance Unit) Groups from Blair County, participated in the Day at the Capitol 2019 in Harrisburg, PA where they educated legislators on the importance of the Tobacco 21 initiative and sustaining Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) funding dollars to support tobacco cessation and prevention programs and services.

Sherri Stayer, Executive Director of the Lung Disease Foundation felt the day was a success. “We spoke with 16 legislators, both House Representatives and Senators, concerning the Tobacco 21 initiative and sustaining the Master Settlement Agreement including keeping the funding and use in place,” said Stayer
Participants included TRU Group members and chaperones from Joshua House in Tyrone and Blair Regional YMCA, and representatives of the Lung Disease Foundation of Central Pennsylvania.

Robbie Vonada, TRU Advisor at Blair Regional YMCA shared, “This was a wonderful opportunity to take a group of adolescents and teens to the Capital building and talk with our legislators who were receptive to raising the tobacco age from 18 to 21.” Vonada and his TRU Group felt the overall event was very productive. “Senator Judy Ward and Senator Frank Burns were welcoming and talked with the kids about their concerns of Tobacco 21.”

Alexis Kilmartin, one of the TRU Group members with Joshua House, was impressed with the turnout and the passion the youth had when speaking with the legislators. “A lot of the students were educated on the epidemic of tobacco use and shared their concerns of how it is affecting younger generations,” said Kilmartin.

Stayer estimated 650 TRu acvocates and 100 adult PACT advocates attended. The news conference, originally planned to be held on the steps of the Main Rotunda, was held at Soldiers and Sailors Field due to the large number of participants. Funding for the trip was provided by the Lung Disease Foundation through grants received as a result of their designation as Tobacco Control Service Provider for Blair and Bedford Counties.

The proposed Tobacco 21 legislation calls for a policy change to raise the age to legally sell tobacco and nicotine products from 18 to 21 years of age. According to the U.S. Health and Human Services, each day, more than 2,300 kids under 18 years of age try their first cigarette.

Supporters of this new policy hope to significantly reduce youth tobacco use, prevent related disease, and premature death among younger generations.
The Lung Disease Foundation plans to meet with the Blair County TRU Groups to discuss the results of the event and future plans for the overall program. The Lung Disease Foundation of Central Pennsylvania, through a grant from the American Lung Association and the Pennsylvania Department of Health, is funding several TRU Groups in Blair County. The current funding is extended through September 2019.

For more information on the results of the day, Tobacco 21, TRU Groups, Master Settlement Agreement Funding, and the Foundation, please contact Sherri Stayer, Executive Director, at 814-946-2845, ext. 200 or email her at

The Lung Disease Foundation of Central Pennsylvania, a 501(c) (3) nonprofit foundation founded by Dr. George M. Zlupko, is located at the Lung Disease Center of Central Pennsylvania, 800 Chestnut Avenue, Altoona, PA along with the Altoona Lung Specialists and the Sleep Disorder Network.