Youth Tobacco Team ?Gets serious?

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Ontario Lung Association

The Lung Association’s Youth Tobacco Team “Gets serious” with recommendations to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care

Toronto, ON (January 12, 2004) -- In its second report to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, entitled, “It’s Time to Get Serious”, The Lung Association’s Youth Tobacco Team (YTT) calls upon health officials to better protect today’s youth against the lure of tobacco use.  Team members made the passionate presentation today to Peter Fonseca, MPP and Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care at Toronto’s Hard Rock Café.

The YTT showed support and were “extremely pleased” with the new Liberal government’s plan to pass a province-wide ban on smoking in all public places and workplaces, including restaurants and bars, and encouraged this to be put into effect before 2006.  These tighter restrictions will help reduce youth smoking and exposure to second hand smoke.  Currently 19% of Ontario youth aged 15-19 smoke.

The YTT also fired missives against the tobacco industry and took aim against their marketing activities, especially those that specifically target youth.  Citing the Internet as a lure for inviting youth to trendy events where tobacco companies promote and sell their products, as well as the powerful impact the film industry has on youth, the team asked for more stringent controls that would prevent ubiquitous access to youth markets.

“We conducted a recent survey which suggests that 73% of Canadians agree that actors smoking in movie roles does influence youth to take up smoking,” says Youth Tobacco Team member Michelle Tham, 17, of Mississauga.  “I am here to fight for our youth and our integrity.   We may be young, but we are not blind to the deception and manipulation of tobacco companies.”

The six recommendations, with headers the likes of, “Frankly Imperial, we don’t give a damn”,Bad things come in slick packages” and “Protect us!”, ensured the authentic voice of youth resonated off the pages of the report. 

"Our government is pleased to receive the Youth Tobacco Teams' report. The main recommendations, including banning smoking in public places, increasing tobacco taxes and funding programs to reduce tobacco use among youth, are supported by our government's anti-tobacco policy platform," said Fonseca.  "On behalf of the McGuinty government, I would like to congratulate these young people on a job well done!"                               

The team also suggested ways in which the Ministry could better access today’s “plugged in” youth through text messaging, online chat groups, cellular telephones and pagers. Copies of the complete report can be obtained through www.on.lung.ca.

The Lung Association’s Youth Tobacco Team (YTT) was formed in 2001 after identifying that not outlet existed for Ontario’s youth to advise stakeholders in the tobacco prevention area on ways to curb the tobacco epidemic among young people.  The YTT consists of high school students aged 14-18 who work within their communities across the province to develop and provide recommendations about ways to curb tobacco use.  The Lung Association supports the YTT by helping it advance its mission to provide messages and activities aimed at youth.

The Lung Association is a registered charity that provides information and funding for research to improve lung health.  We focus on the prevention and control of asthma, chronic lung disease, tobacco cessation and prevention, as well as air quality and its effects on lung health.  For further information on lung health call The Lung Association at 1-888-566-5864(LUNG) or visit online at www.lung.ca.

Funding for The Lung Association’s Youth Tobacco Team has been provided in part by the Ontario Tobacco Strategy, Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. No endorsement by the Ministry is intended or should be inferred.

To listen to today’s presentation, please visit: https://www.newswire.ca/en/webcast/viewEvent.cgi?eventID=717860

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For further information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Avril Henry
Public Relations Manager
The Lung Association
Tel: 416-864-9911 x235
Cell: 416-802-9811
ahenry@on.lung.ca

 

It’s time to GET SERIOUS!

A Report from The Lung Association’s
Youth Tobacco Team

Funding for this program has been provided in part by the Ontario Tobacco Strategy, Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.  No endorsement by the Ministry is intended or should be inferred.

This report was developed and printed by The Lung Association

© 2003 The Lung Association.  All rights reserved.

The Lung Association’s Youth Tobacco Team

The Lung Association’s Youth Tobacco Team (YTT) was formed in 2001 after identifying that no outlet existed for Ontario’s youth to advise stakeholders in the tobacco prevention area on ways to curb the tobacco epidemic among young people.  The YTT consists of high school students aged 14 to 18 who work within their communities across the province to develop and provide recommendations about ways to curb tobacco use.  The Lung Association supports the YTT by helping it advance its mission to provide messages and activities aimed at youth.

As members of The Lung Association’s Youth Tobacco Team, we are all personally committed to reducing tobacco use among our friends, our families and the people in our communities across the province.  Each one of us has a unique reason why we joined the Youth Tobacco Team.  We have all experienced defining moments and events in our lives that shaped who we are and why we have chosen to fight tobacco use among youth.  - The Youth Tobacco Team

Introduction

We have learned a lot over the past year through our involvement as members of the YTT:  about the effects of smoking, the impact of second-hand smoke, the deceptive marketing practices of tobacco companies, the use of effective mass media campaigns, the role of government policy and much more.  We think all high school students across Ontario deserve to know more about the number one cause of preventable death- smoking.   This report contains recommendations that are important to us and which we feel can positively impact and extend the lives of all young Ontarians.

Recommendations to the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care

Ontario’s Youth Tobacco Team calls for action in the areas of government legislation and exposing marketing tactics of tobacco companies.

The YTT strongly encourages the Ontario government to focus on passing legislation and funding programs that will help reduce youth smoking and exposure to second hand smoke.  We are suggesting that the Ontario government:

  • legislate a full province-wide ban on smoking in all public and work places as soon as possible;
  • raise taxes on tobacco substantially;
  • provide more funding for tobacco control programs and support for youth who want to quit;
  • provide additional funding for effective mass media campaigns;
  • take action to expose the marketing activities of tobacco companies, aimed at youth; and
  • strengthen packaging restrictions by removing light and mild descriptors or enlarging the warning labels.

Protect us!

The Ontario government should pass a province-wide ban on smoking in ALL public places and workplaces, including restaurants and bars before 2006.

We were extremely pleased that the new Liberal Government committed to a province- wide ban on smoking in all work and public places.  A provincial ban will help create a level playing field for restaurants and bars and will help smaller municipalities who don’t have the resources to pass a bylaw. 

Let’s put our money where our mouth is

The Government of Ontario should raise tobacco taxes substantially to reduce youth smoking and close the “roll your own loophole”.

It has been shown that one of the most effective ways to reduce smoking among teens is to raise the price of cigarettes.  Higher taxes will prompt teens to quit and prevent others from starting.  Even with the recently announced increase, Ontario’s cigarette prices are still among the lowest in Canada.

Many youth choose to roll their own cigarettes and we would like to suggest that the Ontario government take a better look at their taxation of fine cut tobacco used for roll your own cigarettes.

It’s time to get busy

The Ontario government should fund proven programs that we know will have an impact on kids, especially in the areas of youth cessation, research and mass media.

Cessation:  Teens need more help to cut back and quit smoking.  They quit differently than adult smokers do and youth also quit for different reasons than adults do.  We need funding for peer support groups in schools and in the community for students who want to cut back and eventually quit.

Research:  We need to know more about why kids smoke and what helps us quit.  Researchers need to better understand current influences and apply their learning to develop better youth programs.

Mass Media:  Today’s youth spend more time online and watching TV than any other generation.  We communicate using unique venues such as text messaging and online chat groups.  Most of us carry cell phones or pagers.  Because we are so plugged in, the mass media has huge potential for educating us and supporting us as we make decisions about our behaviour. 

Tell it like it is

We think that it’s time tobacco companies stop marketing their products to youth and all forms of tobacco promotion be banned.

Tobacco companies use many venues to market their products to this new generation of future consumers.  Their tactics include:

  • using the Internet to lure youth to trendy events where tobacco companies promote and sell their products;
  • glamourizing smoking on television, music videos and film by having popular youth role models smoke, youth are given the impression that smoking is an acceptable; and 
  • counter-top and ‘power wall’ displays which are in plain view and in reach of young people in corner stores.

During the course of our work this past year, our eyes have been opened to the lies and deceit that tobacco companies perpetrate.  We have learned that they will stop at nothing to meet their bottom line.  Youth are a special target and the industry has no qualms about using any tactic they can to influence their future market.

Frankly Imperial, we don’t give a damn

All films that include smoking should be given a restricted rating and that the Ontario government should not provide funding for films that include smoking.

A recent survey conducted by The Lung Association states that 73% of Canadians agree that actors smoking in movie roles does influence young people to smoke. 

One area where the tobacco companies have been particularly successful in glamorizing their product is in the movies.  The film industry has huge potential for influencing young people and tobacco companies knows this.  Movie stars are modern-day heroes and heroines and kids make choices based on the way stars talk, the way they dress and what they eat, drink and smoke.  By restricting access to films that show smoking and by cutting back  on funding, the Ontario government would send a strong anti-tobacco message that would have definite impact   on youth.

Bad things come in slick packages

Increase packaging restrictions by removing light and mild descriptors or enlarging the warning labels.

Many teens have seen the current warnings so often that they no longer really take notice of them.  Others have developed unique ways of covering up the warnings or even make fun of them.  Many teen smokers switch to lower yield cigarettes because they think they are less risky however research has shown that these cigarettes have no measurable health benefit. 

Ontario’s Youth Tobacco Team:

Ashley Clayton 18, St. Catharines

“Working with elementary students in St Catharines made me realize that I could have an effect and that made me feel great!”

Martine Clayton 17, Amherstburg

“A lot of teenage girls think that smoking is glamorous.   It’s not.”

Peter Dewey 15, Rockwood

“I really wonder how people who work for tobacco companies can live with themselves.”

Christy Hammond 16, Port Carling

“The YTT has given me a chance to learn about tobacco and I hope I can make a difference.” 

Sean Wilson 17, Warkworth

“I’ve learned the hard way that smoking is addictive.  The YTT has allowed me to reach people younger than me to prevent them from making the same mistake.

Alissa Shepherd 17, Ramore

“Many adults and specifically politicians tend to underestimate the dedication teens can give to a cause and the effect that they can have.” 

Michelle Tham 17, Mississauga

“I am here to fight for youth and our integrity.  We may be young but we are not blind to the deception and manipulation of  tobacco companies.” 

Rob Walker 18, Victoria Harbour

“I am totally committed to taking on tobacco companies, even when I am in university next year.”

Tyler Ward 17, Toronto

“It was the movie “The Insider” that really made me realize that I had to do something to fight the tobacco industry.” 

 

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