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Cinema Ads Challenge Tobacco Marketing Aimed at Kids

SIMCOE, DEC. 12, 2006 – Local health officials are getting behind a cinema ad campaign that combats tobacco-industry marketing tactics aimed at kids.

“Kids are bombarded every day by tobacco-industry tactics that include compensating movie stars to smoke on the big screen,” noted Erin Bellchamber of the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit.

Bellchamber, a Health Promoter for the Smoke-Free Ontario campaign, said the ads will appear in movie theatres across Ontario during December and January to counteract the tobacco industry messages “and give young people a fighting chance to stay smoke free.”

The campaign was launched by the NOT TO KIDS! Coalition, a partnership of 27 public health agencies throughout Ontario, including the local Health Unit, working to keep kids smoke free.

“We are trying to counteract the strong messages the tobacco industry spreads in its attempt to get young people to take up the hazardous habit,” Bellchamber said. “Our cinema ads urge older teens and young adults not to share, give or buy cigarettes if the recipient is under 19.”

The availability of tobacco and the willingness of older youth to supply tobacco to younger peers are important sociological factors that have a strong influence on whether or not kids will start smoking, Bellchamber pointed out.

“We know young adults and older teens will buy or give cigarettes to younger teens thinking they are doing these kids a favor,” she said. “The reality is, that couldn’t be further from the truth. They are helping these

kids get addicted to a product that will either kill them or leave them with health problems like heart and lung disease.”

The cinema ads, funded by Health Canada, will be playing during a four-week rotation in selected Cineplex Media theatres and independent theatres across Ontario. The ads address older teens and young adults with the message, “The next time a kid asks you for a cigarette – stop. Think about it.”

Under the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, it is illegal to sell or supply tobacco to anyone younger than 19 years of age. Efforts to decrease tobacco sales to youth by tobacco retailers have been successful, but as retail sources become limited, young people rely on friends, family and strangers for their supply of tobacco products.

Any person who violates the Smoke-Free Ontario Act faces a minimum fine of $300 plus applicable surcharges for a first offence. Maximum fine for a first offence can be as high as $4,000.

For more information, visit the NOT TO KIDS! website at www.ntk.ca.

Media contact: Erin Bellchamber, Health Promoter, Smoke-Free Ontario, Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit, 519-426-6170 Ext. 3278 or at fax 519-426-9974 or at email erin.bellchamber@hnhu.org