CALEDONIA, DECEMBER 1, 2011 – Dozens of families and other fans of lovable little blue creatures turned out for a ‘smoke-free movie’ night in Caledonia last week.
The free event, hosted by the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit’s volunteer youth group H.E.A.T. (which stands for Health Education and Advocacy Team), entertained more than 250 parents and children on Saturday night with Smurf-themed games and activities, followed by a screening of The Smurfs movie.
Weaved throughout the evening was a message about the impact that smoking in movies has on impressionable young minds. A public service announcement, created by the HEAT volunteers, was screened before the movie began.
“Seeing actors and characters smoke in movies has been shown to really influence young people, and make them more likely to start smoking,” said Sarah Buehner, a youth volunteer with H.E.A.T. “We wanted to share that message with parents, but also provide them with a fun evening they could spend with their kids.”
Some highlights of the event included Smurf-themed challenges, free popcorn and prizes, and even an impromptu game of Smurf Smurf Duck for the younger attendees. Parents were also given the opportunity to learn more about the issue of tobacco in films and to sign a petition to show their support for keeping tobacco out of all future youth-rated movies.
“Changes need to be made to the current rating system if we want to protect children and youth from the impacts of on-screen smoking,” noted Buehner. “Lots of parents told us that they weren’t aware of how much smoking in movies impacts kids, so raising their awareness is a great first step.”
Members of H.E.A.T. are encouraging more young people and their parents to learn about the issue of smoking in the movies and to show their support for removing tobacco from youth-rated films by visiting www.smokefreemovies.ca.
Youth Engagement Coordinator
Population Health Team
Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
Ext. 3276 at either 519-426-6170 or 905-318-6623