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Advocate Against Youth Targeting
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Do you know what tobacco products and candy have in common? Both are marketed to youth.
Smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death in the United States because it may lead to cancer and heart disease. Smoking causes more than 443,000 early deaths per year, amounting to 5.5 million years of potential life lost. Point of sale, or tobacco marketing at retail locations, has been a primary venue for tobacco industry advertising and promotions. Exposure to point of sale advertising and promotions prompts smoking initiation, encourages tobacco use, and undermines quit attempts.
Youth are three times more sensitive than adults to tobacco advertising. Tobacco marketing is also designed to target youth by using imagery that appeals to young children and adolescents. Specifically, tobacco products are packaged to look similar to products that appeal to youth, such as candy; and products and advertisements are placed where they are highly visible to youth. These tactics work: each day, almost 4,000 youth in the United States try their first cigarette and an additional 1,000 youth under age 18 become new, daily smokers.
The purpose of this activity is to teach youth the marketing strategies tobacco companies use to appeal to youth, and how these strategies influence kids to start smoking and take up this dangerous addiction.
Participants will play two indoor games designed to teach them different strategies the tobacco industry uses to target youth and the damaging effects of these strategies. Each game culminates in the production of a visual display that your youth group can use to advocate for stricter tobacco marketing policies.
Printed activity materials, poster board, colored pencils/pens/markers, and stickers/push pins/glue/tape for visual display.
Memory Match is designed to teach youth how the tobacco industry packages products to look similar to other products that appeal to youth, such as candy. After playing the game, have a discussion with the group to make sure the youth understand why the tobacco industry is packaging products this way and what the consequences are for their age group.
The following should be discussed with the group: Tobacco marketing is designed to target youth by using imagery that appeals to youth and adolescents. This advertising results in misconceptions about the harmfulness of the products, affects youth’s recognition of particular brands, develops positive attitudes about smoking, creates intentions to smoke, and increases smoking behavior.
Use the following questions to facilitate the discussion:
1-2 Weeks Before Event:
Day of Event:
Set up Memory Match
Print the pairs of tobacco and candy products on the following pages in color. Cut around each image and paste it to heavy weight paper (such as index cards or construction paper so that you cannot see the image through the back of the paper).
Play Memory Match
Spot the Strategy is designed to help youth recognize and think critically about how and where retailers place tobacco products in their stores. After playing the game, have a discussion with the group about how tobacco products and advertisements are designed to target youth by being placed where they are highly visible and by associating tobacco with youth centric products such as candy. Be sure the youth understand that this practice manipulates youth into falsely thinking tobacco is a fun and harmless product, which in turn leads to tobacco initiation and use.
Set up Spot the Strategy
Print the activity sheet on page 7 in color for each student and provide each student with a pen or pencil.
Play Spot the Strategy
Build a visual display
Instruct the group to build a visual display to show their parents and/or teachers what they learned while playing the game. For example, place each pair of tobacco and candy products on a poster board or medium of your choice. Decorate the board however you or the group choses. The visual display will illustrate the abundance of ways the tobacco industry packages products to appeal to youth.
For decades, Big Tobacco has marketed its deadly and addictive products to youth like you. Thanks to a 2009 law passed by Congress, the Food and Drug Administration has restricted some forms of tobacco marketing. However, in the U.S. alone, tobacco marketing still totals $8.5 billion a year – nearly one million dollars each day. Their method may be more subtle, but their goal remains the same: to get young people like you to smoke.
We need your help. We want to know: how is tobacco marketed to you? Do you see it in stores, magazines or social media? What tobacco marketing tactics do you encounter in a day? A week? A month? Show us.
The best part? You don’t have to wait until Kick Butts Day to get started. In fact, the sooner you get started, the better!
Smartphone with camera, Instagram, walking shoes!
Note: Use common sense. Don’t take pictures where or when you’re not supposed to.
We also encourage you to tell your friends about this project! The more people we have participating, the more powerful the message will be.
In order for your photos to be searchable through #tobaccotargetsme, you must set your privacy settings to share photos. You can learn more about privacy settings here.
No Instagram? No problem!
Email your photos to email@example.com and we will push them out on our own Instagram account, @KickButtsDay
In addition to your picture, please include the following information in your email:
It may take a few hours for your images to appear in the gallery. The Kick Butts Day team needs to approve the images to make sure that we’re not posting inappropriate materials. Other reasons why your images aren’t showing up:
Walking Tobacco Audit
Can you guess how many tobacco retailers kids in your community see on their way to school? Don’t know? Here’s your chance to find out.
Audit form, audit guide, route map, clipboards, pencils, digital camera, poster board, stickers/push pins for visual display, comfortable walking attire.
Point of sale (POS), or tobacco marketing at retail locations, has been a primary venue for tobacco industry advertising and promotions. Exposure to POS advertising and promotions prompts smoking initiation, encourages tobacco use, and undermines quit attempts.1,2 Youth are three times more sensitive than adults to tobacco adverstising.3 Each day, almost 4,000 kids in the United States try their first cigarette and an additional 1,000 kids under age 18 become new, daily smokers.4 That’s over 400,000 new underage daily smokers each year.4 The purpose of this activity is to raise awareness of youth exposure to tobacco marketing.
A walking tobacco audit offers youth a chance to see how many tobacco retailers and how many tobacco advertisements are located along their route to school. Participants will identify the number of tobacco retailers along the major routes to school and tally the tobacco product names, brands, and prices that can be seen from outside those stores. Youth will take photographs of tobacco advertisements to create a visual display of their findings.
3-4 Weeks Before the Event
1-2 Weeks Before the Event
Day of the Event
After the Event
Q: What if I don’t live in an urban environment?
While the activity is best suited for an urban environment, you can certainly lead your youth group on a walking audit of tobacco retailers if you live in other locations. Keep in mind that you may not encounter as many tobacco retailers and/or advertisements.
Q: What should I do if a store owner wants to know what we are doing?
You are only observing advertisements that are visible from outside of the store. If someone questions what you are doing, let them know that your group is working on a project to learn more about advertising in your community. You may consider letting the store owner know what your group is doing when you arrive at the store.
Q: What if I have more than 6 participants?
To ensure the safety of the participating kids, this activity is best suited for groups of 4-6 kids. Larger groups should be divided into subgroups for the walk and each subgroup should audit a route for a different school in your community. The subgroups can then come back together to discuss what they saw as a larger group.
Q: How long will it take to complete the walk?
The total time may vary, but the audit should take 1-2 hours to complete. The debrief should take 1-2 additional hours to complete. It may be more feasible to break the activity up into two sessions on different days.
Q: How do I choose a good route for the activity?
The walking audit is meant to be done during the day so we suggest a route that is safe and easily walkable by a large group. You may consider choosing a route along the designated school walk zones or bus routes, but make sure there are tobacco retailers. The event coordinator should walk the route before the event to ensure that it is suitable.
Q: Do we need to have a digital camera(s) and camcorder for this activity?
Yes, digital or disposable cameras or smartphones with cameras are required for the activity. Photographs will be used to create your final visual display. A camcorder is optional, as you may wish to create a video documenting your activity.
Q: Where can I find more information about POS marketing and advertising?
CounterTobacco.org has a lot of great resources to learn more about tobacco marketing and policy solutions.
Tobacco Retailer Nation
Pictograph comparing the number of tobacco retailers to the number of fast food restaurants
Communities are saturated with fast food restaurants. But how about tobacco retailers? What if our Fast Food Nation is really more of a Tobacco Retailer Nation? Find out how your community stacks up with this activity
Computers with internet access
Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, contributing to more cases of disease, disability and death than poor nutrition.1 The prevalence and placement of tobacco retailers plays a major role in the epidemic of tobacco related illness in the United States.2 Tobacco retailer density—the number of outlets selling tobacco for a given geographic location or population size—and its accompanying barrage of tobacco product advertising, tempt smokers trying to quit and new smokers alike, by cueing them to smoke and making cigarettes easily accessible.3 Research has shown that higher tobacco retailer density is positively correlated with smoking by both adults and adolescents.4,5 It is estimated that one half million stores in the U.S. sell cigarettes and, all too often, these stores are located near schools and other areas that youth frequent.3,4 The purpose of this activity is to increase awareness about tobacco retailer density in your community.
Participants will map tobacco retailers and fast food restaurants in their community. This activity will show the density of tobacco retailers—the number of outlets selling tobacco for a given geographic location or population size- compared with fast food restaurant density. This exercise can create a compelling argument and visual evidence to limit the number of tobacco retailers.
Point-of-Sale Scavenger Hunt
Smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. Each year smoking causes more than 443,000 early deaths, amounting to 5.5 million years of potential life lost. The retail store, also known as the point of sale (POS), is the primary channel for tobacco industry marketing efforts, accounting for 89% of their total advertising, marketing and promotional budget. Exposure to POS advertising and promotions prompts smoking initiation, encourages tobacco use, and undermines quit attempts. Youth are three times more sensitive than adults to tobacco advertising. Tobacco marketing is also designed to target youth by using imagery that appeals to young children and adolescents. Specifically, tobacco products are packaged to look similar to products that appeal to youth, such as candy; and products and advertisements are placed where they are highly visible to youth.
These tactics work: each day, almost 4,000 youth in the United States try their first cigarette and an additional 1,000 youth under age 18 become new, daily smokers.
The purpose of this activity is 1) to raise awareness and inform youth about the marketing strategies tobacco companies use and how these strategies target kids to start smoking and 2) equip youth with strategies they can use to create change in their community to limit the deadly influence of the tobacco industry.
Assessment form, clipboard, camera, and pens and pencils
At each assigned store, you team will use the assessment form to collect Information about the tobacco advertising and product availability present. Before you get to a store your team should establish roles. Each team will need: 1) Exterior Team 2) Interior team 3) Photographer
You don’t need to keep the same role at each store, but it is important that there is at least one person in each of these roles. If your team is small you can all do the outside and inside assessments together. The goal is to only have 2 people inside the store at once. You don’t want to overwhelm the store or disrupt their business.
Before you go to stores it is important to know what you are looking for. Familiarize yourself with the assessment form and review the “What To Look For’” pages in this activity with your team so you are prepared.
There are many ways to use the information you gathered in your POS scavenger hunt. Here are some ideas:
Airing Out Big Tobacco’s “Dirty Laundry”
Use this activity to creatively expose Big Tobacco’s lies and tricks by airing out their dirty laundry! Creating a powerful visual display can help people in your community realize the deadly consequences of tobacco use and the tactics used by the tobacco industry to market their products.
“Laundry” items (such as old shirts, socks, sheets, and pants), markers, a clothes line and something to string it from, clothes pins, tobacco company quotes on marketing to kids.
Use light-colored secondhand clothing. Engage other clubs and organizations in your Kick Butts Day project by having them help collect articles of clothing! Having trouble collecting enough clothing? Cut t-shirts and pant shapes out of colored paper and hang those up!
Capture attention with a flash mob! A flash mob is sure to get an audience and can be used to promote your message in visual and creative way. Here is a video of a previous flash mob held in honor of Kick Butts Day.
A location that is heavily populated, a medium to large group of participants, markers and paper for posters, transportation (if the flash mob is held somewhere other than your school), t-shirts for all participants (optional).
Before the event:
On the day of the event:
Cups in a Fence
Spell out your message! Creating a powerful visual display can help people in your community realize the deadly consequences of tobacco use and the tactics used by the tobacco industry to market their products.
Colored plastic cups, a chain-link fence in a high traffic location
Consider tying this activity into a popular community event – is there a 5K race happening? A community field day? Reach out to event organizers and explore ways you can spread your message to an even wider audience.
Body Bag Display
This eye-catching visual will make the toll of tobacco real. Make an impact and spark conversation about what we can do to reduce tobacco use. Creating a powerful visual display can help people in your community realize the deadly consequences of tobacco use and the tactics used by the tobacco industry to market their products.
Posters, markers, body bags (ask your local police department or hospital) or black trash bags, newspaper and other materials to make the “body bags” look full.
This eye-catching visual will be sure to get people talking. Make an impact and spark conversation about what we can do to reduce tobacco use. Creating a powerful visual display can help people in your community realize the deadly consequences of tobacco use and the tactics used by the tobacco industry to market their products.
Cardboard or poster board, gray paint or spray paint, black paint or markers, a high traffic location.
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