Life Health

Students to help peers make smart smoking decisions

Is there anybody better to educate children about the dangers of smoking, than the kids themselves? Healthy Living, Seniors and Consumer Affairs Minister Jim Rondeau revealed a program in which students in Grades 5-12 will have the opportunity to create their own anti-tobacco videos as part of Create and Rate, an anti-tobacco video challenge.

"No one knows how to share important ideas with young people better than another young person. That's why we're giving students the opportunity to create their own videos for making educated decisions about smoking," said Rondeau. "It's a fun, challenging and thought-provoking way of increasing youth awareness about the risks of tobacco use."

The minister said the videos can be serious, funny or somewhere in between, as long as they highlight one of the following three themes:

* quitting smoking or never starting is one of the best decisions a person can ever make,

* tobacco smoke and second-hand smoke contain disgusting and dangerous ingredients, and

* tobacco is damaging the world and it's time to speak out about it.

Applications and information packages for Create and Rate, including a step-by-step guide to creating the videos, will be distributed to all Manitoba schools (Grades 5-12only) starting the week of Jan. 30.

Deadline for entries is March 31. The top 10 videos, as selected by a judging panel, will be posted online at www.mbcreaterate.ca during the third week of April for all young Manitobans to review and rate. Students will have approximately one month to vote once per day per person. Prizes will be awarded to the winning entries.

The new program is an extension of the province's popular Review and Rate program, now in its ninth year, which engages students to rate the effectiveness of anti-tobacco television advertising from around the world, the minister noted. Other youth initiatives include the Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) program, which has youth teams established in 22 schools across Manitoba, which are taking a leadership role in preventing youth tobacco use.

"According to the Canadian Tobacco Use Monitoring Survey, smoking rates for youth 15 to 19 have declined to 15 per cent in 2010 from 29 per cent in 1999," said Rondeau. "Manitoba will continue to build on this success by focusing on preventing young people from starting to smoke, while also assisting smokers with quitting, protecting non-smokers from exposure to second-hand smoke and de-normalizing tobacco products through our Provincial Tobacco Control Strategy."

National Non-Smoking Week (NNSW) in Canada is June 15 to 21. Established in 1977 by the Canadian Council for Tobacco Control, the goals of NNSW are to:

* educate Canadians about the dangers of smoking;

* prevent people who do not smoke from beginning to smoke and becoming addicted to tobacco;

* help people quit smoking;

* promote the right of individuals to breathe air unpolluted by tobacco smoke;

* de-normalize the tobacco industry, tobacco industry marketing practices, tobacco products and tobacco use; and

* assist in the attainment of a smoke-free society in Canada.