Tobacco Resistance Unit

The Harrisburg Area YMCA partners with organizations like the Police Athletic League (PAL) to provide the Tobacco Resistance Unit (TRU) program to youth in our community.

The Tobacco Resistance Unit is a movement in PA to provide training to youth ages 12 to 18 in order to help them stay tobacco and nicotine-free. TRU uses evidence, marketing lies from big tobacco companies, and health education in order to protect youth in the area.

In addition to learning, the TRU program allows youth to foster their leadership skills by presenting and teaching other youth about the dangers of tobacco. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), tobacco use is started and established primarily during adolescence. Nearly 9 out of 10 cigarette smokers first tried smoking by age 18. 99% first tried smoking by age 26. The TRU program focuses on teaching teens and helping them to pass their knowledge onto their peers.

TRU Testimonial

In 2016, Darrell, a TRU participant, said, “The biggest thing I learned about at TRU was looking at the lungs,” he said, “Like, looking at the healthy one and the unhealthy one. It’s just phenomenal what a difference tobacco makes on your body. I decided to be a part of TRU because I felt like I was a part of the family and I knew I wanted to study the health effects of tobacco. I think I have learned a lot about being a leader. TRU is the greatest thing ever!”

“I decided to be a part of TRU because I felt like I was a part of the family."

More Tobacco Cessation Programs states that the goals of the program include:

  • Teach young Pennsylvanians about the dangers of tobacco and nicotine addiction and expose BIG TOBACCO’S marketing lies
  • Grow TRU – Recruit your friends as TRU members through area outreach
  • Make TRU’s Mission known and increase participation in the movement in your region
  • Host fun youth programs that ensure increased participation in the TRU movement
  • Keep TRU around for years to come and to help stop tobacco use in Pennsylvania
  • Follow and inspire public policy related to all tobacco and nicotine products
  • Help youth who smoke QUIT – promote ending habit through the N-O-T Not On Tobacco (N-O-T)

Youth will meet monthly or weekly throughout the year. Through this program, the YMCA hopes to develop young leaders in the Harrisburg Area who can make lasting changes to the next generation. For more info on the program and how to get involved, please contact Eric Rothermel at

Current Program Offerings:

  • Police Athletic League in Harrisburg
  • Phase 4 Learning Center in Harrisburg
  • Williams Valley High School in Williamstown

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