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Students learn the shocking effects of 16 smoking related cancers

Posted 7 Nov, 2019

Students learn the shocking effects of 16 smoking related cancers

An emotive, hard-hitting advertisement depicting 16 common and lesser-known cancers that can be caused by smoking, and the consequences these cancers can have on daily living, has been voted as the most effective advertisement in deterring young people from smoking, in the 19th annual Quit Critics’ Choice.

Critics’ Choice asks students nationwide to watch a series of anti-smoking advertisements from around the world and vote on which has the greatest impact on young people.

The winning advertisement, 16 Cancers, was developed by Cancer Council WA and uses highly graphic imagery to relay the shocking effects of smoking-related cancers and their capacity to take away life's simple pleasures, such as speaking and eating. 

With over 1600 votes cast from schools in Victoria, Tasmania, Western Australia, NSW, ACT and Queensland, students had a diverse range of anti-smoking ads to choose from, including the poignant I am 1 by HSE Ireland, No Smoking Day UK’s Anti-smoking Advertisement for Teenagers, the humorous Social Farter by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-term Care, How You’re Seen by Cancer Council WA and Third Wheel, the winning film from Quit Vic’s Keep the Vibe Alive 2019 short film competition.

Quit Victoria Director Dr Sarah White said with two in three lifetime smokers dying from their addiction, it’s as important as ever to get young people talking about the dangers of smoking. 

“Although fewer young people are taking up smoking in Australia than ever before, we can’t afford to be complacent. We must do all we can to ensure our young people are aware of the health impacts associated with smoking and are not lured into the habit by tobacco industry marketing tactics,” Dr Sarah White said.

A 2018 investigation by US-based Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids found that Big Tobacco is pushing smoking messages on platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter by paying young social media influencers to post images of cigarettes and smoking. Posts promoting smoking are receiving millions of views from countries all over the world, including Australia. 

“Australia cannot afford to be complacent when tobacco companies are still working actively to market to teens and young adults. The reality is that the tobacco companies need to recruit new users because so many adult smokers are quitting or, sadly, dying from preventable diseases. Around the world, we’re seeing Big Tobacco working harder than ever to develop new products, such as flavour-changing capsules in cigarette filters, and to use marketing tactics to make smoking attractive and affordable to teenagers and young adults,” Dr Sarah White said.

“Critics’ Choice is an engaging way for teachers to gets students thinking and talking about the issues surrounding tobacco, and this can help teens recognise and reject the marketing influences.” 

When students voted as part of the initiative, they were entered into a draw to win a $500 sporting equipment voucher. The 2019 winning school in Victoria was Wodonga Middle Years College.

Quit Victoria is a partnership between VicHealth, the State Government of Victoria and Cancer Council Victoria. For more information, visit: 

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