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Local teens urged to join “trick or truth” pumpkin carving contest

CALEDONIA, ON, OCT. 12, 2007 – The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit’s local youth group, Fresh Heir, is holding an all-ages “trick or truth” pumpkin carving contest to shed light on how the tobacco industry tries to trick young people into using its products.

“Halloween is a time when a lot of people hide behind a mask, but we thought this was a good opportunity to unmask the tobacco industry and expose their tricks to other young people,” explained Fresh Heir member Kristen Rattray. “We need to share this information with youth so that when they encounter a situation where they are offered a tobacco industry product, they are able to make an informed decision about what to do.”

Fresh Heir will make pumpkins available at the Health Unit’s Caledonia office, 282 Argyle St., S., on Monday, Oct. 22, from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. for people interested in entering the contest. Pumpkins are free to local youth, although small donations are greatly appreciated because the donations will be used as prizes for the winning pumpkin in each category. Adults are also encouraged to pick up a pumpkin from Fresh Heir for a small donation and create entries of their own. Contest participants are also welcome to use their own pumpkins.

On Monday, Oct. 29, Fresh Heir members will display all received pumpkin entries in the parking lot in front of the Caledonia office. Participants may drop off their creative carvings anytime between 6 and 7 p.m. and all pumpkins will be judged by 7:30 and prizes awarded. From 7:30 to 8, the pumpkins will be lit and on public display. Free drinks and treats, both healthy and sweet, will be distributed to visitors.

“Those not entering a pumpkin in the contest are welcome to come out, admire the artistic creations of community members, enjoy the refreshments and learn a little about the deceptive tactics Big Tobacco uses to recruit young customers,” said Josh Daley, the Health Unit’s Youth Advisor for the Smoke-Free Ontario Program.

Prizes will be awarded to the top pumpkin in two divisions: Junior (14 and under) and Senior (15+). Props and decorations are permissible, but designs must be “family friendly” and not contain inappropriate images or language.

“The tobacco industry tries a number of different ways to attract young people to use its products,” noted M’toulin Asquith, Peer Leader with Fresh Heir. “Candy-flavoured cigarettes and chewing tobacco, promoting smoking through PG-rated and PG-13-rated movies, and youth-friendly advertisements in magazines popular with young people, such as Sports Illustrated, Rolling Stone and Cosmopolitan, are just a few of the tactics used to try and recruit us as customers.”

Recent studies show the average age at which a young person first experiments with tobacco is approximately 13, and 90% of all regular smokers began smoking before the age of 20. Based on this information, Fresh Heir feels it is important for youth of all ages to be aware that they are being targeted by tobacco companies who are looking to replace the customers they lose each day due to death or successful quit attempts.

Fresh Heir is always looking for volunteers to help in its efforts to “Clear Up Big Tobacco for this Generation and the Next.” Those interested in getting involved may contact the group at [email protected] or call the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit at 905-318-6623 Ext. 3276 or 519-426-6170.

Media contact:
Josh Daley
Youth Advisor
Smoke-Free Ontario Program
Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
905-318-6623 Ext. 3276 or 519-426-6170