LIMA — Activate Allen County wants to use teens to send a message to other youth about the dangers of smoking.
The group is starting a public service announcement contest for youth age 13 to 19. Teens can create a 30-second PSA video to YouTube or submit it in the form of a script or idea to firstname.lastname@example.org by March 12. The top two entries will win an opportunity to run a PSA on TV, radio and social media, said Nancy Bonifas, Activate Allen County’s Tobacco Free Living team leader and a certified tobacco treatment specialist.
Peers have the strongest influence on whether a teenager begins to use tobacco, Bonifas said. That is followed closely by the influence of a teen’s home environment. It’s a tough sell against an industry that targets youth”to replace their customers who die everyday from the usage of their product,” Bonifas said.
Every day more than 3,500 people under the age of 18 try their first cigarette, and another 1,000 youth become new, regular daily smokers. Tobacco companies target youth as the replacements for the more than 440,000 people killed by tobacco every year, according to the American Lung Association.
“When you give youth that information it allows them to accept the challenge and use their creativity to fight back against the big tobacco companies,” Bonifas said. “So, we want to give the youth of Allen County a chance to show us their creativity, and at the same time send the message to big tobacco companies that they will no longer be targets for them and their lethal product.”
Judging is based on creativity, use of relevant facts and the ability to reach other youth. The information has been shared with schools in Allen County, Bonifas said, and the group is trying to reach other youth groups and clubs.
The PSA should be based on the following themes: sending a message to big tobacco that they can’t target you, the 47,000 chemicals and composition of a cigarette, pushing for smoke-free policies or starting with one person to stand up and speak out against tobacco.
Call 419-221-5035, see www.activateallencounty.com or visit the Activate Allen County office at 136 S. West St., in the Lima Family YMCA Annex for more information or a contest application.
Activate Allen County is a public health initiative committed to reducing obesity and smoking in Lima and Allen County by promoting healthy eating, active living and a tobacco-free lifestyle.