Quit Victoria has launched its annual youth tobacco education initiative, The Critics’ Choice, and is calling on schools across Australia to get involved.
Now in its 19th year, the educational program showcases a series of anti-smoking advertisements from around the world and asks students to examine the themes raised as well as vote on which is the most effective in deterring young people from smoking.
According to Quit Victoria, the alarming trend of tobacco companies leveraging social media influencers to entice a new generation of smokers, together with new data showing increased roll-your-own tobacco use among young people who smoke, highlights the need for continued anti-smoking education in our primary and secondary schools.
The importance of such a program was further highlighted after a 2018 investigation by US-based Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids found that tobacco companies are pushing smoking messages on social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter by paying social media influencers to post images of cigarettes and smoking.
This year’s Critics’ Choice launch coincides with the release of data from the latest Australian Secondary Students’ Alcohol and Drug (ASSAD) survey which shows that while adolescent smoking rates are dropping, among those secondary school students who had smoked in the past month (about 7% of all students), the proportion regularly using roll-your-own (RYO) tobacco has increased from 24% to 29% in just three years (from 2014 to 2017).
Quit Victoria Director Dr Sarah White said, “Fortunately, fewer young Australians are taking up smoking, but we can’t afford to become complacent. The tobacco industry is working harder than ever to develop products, such as flavour-changing capsules in cigarette filters, and use sneaky marketing tactics, like using social media influencers to advertise cigarettes, to make smoking attractive to more teenagers and young adults.
“Critics’ Choice is an engaging way for teachers to gets students thinking and talking about the issues surrounding tobacco use and control.”
Critics’ Choice will run into Term 4, with voting closing 14 November 2019. When students vote, their school goes into the draw to win a sports voucher. The winning advertisement by popular vote will be announced later in the year. For more information, please click here. Entries are open to schools in Victoria, Tasmania, Western Australia, NSW, ACT and Queensland.