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Youth coffee house will feature local talent while targeting global tobacco marketing tactics

SIMCOE, ON, MAY 17, 2007 – A coffee house aimed at informing teens about the marketing tactics of the multi-billion-dollar global tobacco industry will be held in Simcoe on May 29.

“We want to treat our fellow teens to some great, young, local talent, while at the same time introducing them to the unscrupulous actions of multinational corporate tobacco companies around the world,” explained Lucas Lubin, a Peer Leader with Fresh Heir, the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit’s Youth Action Alliance.

The coffee house, which takes place at the Simcoe Recreation Centre banquet hall from 6:30 to 9 p.m., will include poetry, songs and instrumentals, and there may even be an opportunity for some karaoke with audience members. Informative short films will be aired occasionally throughout the evening. Admission is free and there will be refreshments, giveaways and prizes to be won.

“We feel it’s important that teens understand what is happening around the world, especially when young people in other countries, many of them developing nations, are affected,” Lubin said. “The behaviour of these multi-billion-dollar companies contributes to problems such as child labour, food shortages, deforestation, poverty, morbidity and mortality in many parts of the world. The fallout of these companies’ actions in struggling countries is huge.”

The coffee house is being held in conjunction with World No Tobacco Day, designated May 31 by the World Health Organization.

The WHO reports that 84 per cent of the world’s 1.3 billion smokers live in developing and transitional-economy countries.
“The goal of Fresh Heir’s coffee house is to alert people to the efforts and tactics the multinational tobacco companies use to lure populations across the globe into using their products, often at the expense of other basic needs such as food, education and health care,” noted Michelina Palermo, another Peer Leader.

“As more people in Canada and other developed countries become aware of the health effects of tobacco use, and legislation is put in place to help protect the health of the public, global tobacco companies shift their efforts to untapped markets overseas.”

Palermo says many of these countries have no regulations about advertising to children or health warnings on cigarette packages, and general knowledge about the hazardous health effects of tobacco is much lower.

“The people who can least afford to smoke are targeted by advertising and get addicted to tobacco industry products, which puts them in a vicious circle of poverty and poor health,” she said.

Paul Misner, also a member of Fresh Heir, said the coffee house “allows us to educate local teens about the global footprint of commercial tobacco in a fun and enjoyable atmosphere and advocate for change together. Hopefully, the youth will leave both entertained and more informed.”

Media contact: Josh Daley, Youth Advisor, Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit, 519-426-6170 Ext. 3276 or [email protected]