Ontario government launches anti-smoking campaign for youth

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Campaign Features New Website, Advertising And Free Concerts

TORONTO, Nov. 26 2004 – The Ontario government is launching an innovative multi-media campaign to prevent smoking among youth as part of its comprehensive tobacco control strategy, Health and Long-Term Care Minister George Smitherman said today.

“Our government is committed to implementing an aggressive plan to reduce smoking – the number one preventable killer in this province,” said Smitherman. “A key part of this plan is an anti-smoking campaign created by youth, for youth. I’m thrilled to announce that we’re fulfilling this important commitment.”

The campaign specifically targets young people, a group most at risk of starting to smoke. The campaign features a website www.stupid.ca, as well as television, cinema and print advertising. The campaign will be launched by a series of all-ages concerts in Toronto, Ottawa, Kingston, London and Thunder Bay.

“About 90,000 kids try smoking every year in Ontario,” said Dr. Sheela Basrur, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health. “We need to reach these kids before they start smoking, not after they are addicted. This campaign gives young people the information they need, in their own language, to make choices now that can affect the rest of their lives.”

Funded by the provincial government, the campaign was created by a panel of young Ontarians from across the province. The panel, which includes former smokers, non-smokers and smoke-free advocates, ages 14 to 21, developed messaging and strategies that would reach Ontario youth in the most relevant and effective way.

“This campaign is a commitment from the government to support young Ontarians in the fight against smoking in this province,” said Kierston Fu, Ottawa Resident and Youth Advisory Panel member. “We aren’t lecturing kids about what they should do. We’re providing information about smoking that we hope will make them stop and think about the choices they make.”

The youth campaign is one part of the government’s comprehensive tobacco control strategy, which includes upcoming legislation to introduce a 100 per cent smoking ban in all workplaces and public places, as well as efforts to support smokers who choose to quit.

For more information, visit the website: www.stupid.ca


BACKGROUNDER

Anti-Smoking Youth Campaign

The Ontario government is launching an innovative multi-media campaign to prevent smoking among youth. The campaign includes a website, www.stupid.ca, as well as free concerts and television, cinema and print advertising. The youth campaign is the first of several initiatives to be rolled out
as part of the government’s multi-pronged, aggressive strategy for a smoke-free Ontario. The other parts of the strategy include upcoming legislation to introduce a 100 per cent smoking ban in all workplaces and public places, as well as efforts to support smokers who choose to quit.

Why a Campaign for Youth?

Targeting youth in an anti-smoking campaign will reduce the number of smokers in Ontario since tens of thousands of kids start smoking each year and almost all smokers began smoking when they were in their teens. Kids under the age of 12 tend to have strong anti-smoking views, but at the critical age of 12 to 15 they become much more susceptible to peer pressure and other influences.

This is the first time in more than a decade that the provincial government has proactively addressed head-on the challenge of reducing smoking among youth. To develop this youth-targeted Ontario campaign, the government worked with youth research experts.

To ensure that the campaign is “for youth, by youth,” the government recruited an enthusiastic group of 15 youth representatives that make up the Youth Advisory Panel. The panel developed messaging and strategies that would reach Ontario youth in the most relevant and effective way.

Facts about Smoking and Teens

Here are some important facts about smoking and teens:

  • About 90,000 kids decide to try smoking every year in Ontario
  • Among the entire population, the smoking rate is 20 per cent; yet
  • among 15 to 24-year-olds, the smoking rate is 22 per cent for both men and women
  • Almost all smokers had their first cigarette while in their teens – and almost half tried their first cigarette before the age of 15
  • For smokers aged 15 to 17, females had their first cigarette at an average age of 12.9 years while for males it was at age 13.3 years.