A campaign by the Utah County Health Department is sponsoring a video contest to educate teens about tobacco prevention.
The contest is part of the health department’s upcoming Kick Butts Day on March 19.
Officials challenge teens ages 12–18 to produce 30-second videos about the dangers of smoking. Winners will receive cash prizes up to $500 for first place. The day will also include a free, private screening of the new YA blockbuster “Divergent” for the first 100 participants and speeches by Miss Northern Utah County and former smokers.
The contest is a proactive way to fight back against tobacco companies efforts to lure in teens, said Sarah Simons, an educator for the health department.
“We’re standing up against Big Tobacco targeting teenagers,” Simons said. “Even though they can’t sell to youth, the base of their advertisement is towards high school students.”
Simons also said the contest is a way for teens to take matters into their own hands in a positive, creative way.
“(By participating in Kick Butts Day) they will understand how tobacco companies target them,” she said. “It’s important for them to have a voice, to stand up and stand out.”
One organization that has gotten heavily involved in the contest is the Queen Center, a nonprofit organization focused on educating Pacific Islanders about the health disparities and dangers of tobacco. The Queen Center has two youth programs, OUTRAGE and Island Teens Against Tobacco, participating in the contest.
Joyce Ah You, the Queen Center’s executive director, said youth in the programs will be submitting at least 10 different videos.
“They want to stop being targeted, and this will show them they can make a difference and get their message out,” Ah You said. “It’s another avenue for them to be heard.”
Ah You also said the campaign has the potential to make a real difference among Pacific Islanders.
“Our culture has one of the highest rates of tobacco use,” she said. “Those rates have dropped tremendously through education like Kick Butts Day.”
The health department’s focus on tobacco prevention also coincides with a new national campaign targeting teens by the Food and Drug Administration.
According to an FDA report, each day 3,200 Americans under 18 smoke their first cigarette. Of those, 700 become daily cigarette users. The media campaign focuses on the immediate consequences smoking brings to teens’ appearances, rather than long-term cancer risk, and will air in more than 200 markets over the next 12 months — including Utah County.
Click here for more information on Kick Butts Day.