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The tobacco industry is addicting a whole new generation of kids, using more than 15,000 flavors like gummy bear, cotton candy, and chocolate. In many cases, the packaging even mimics that of popular candy brands. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has the power to stop this. In order to prevent another generation of youth from becoming addicted to nicotine, there must be strong action.
This activity urges the FDA to ban the sale of flavored tobacco products and their deadly appeal to youth. This can be done by having members of your community sign a petition. Petitions are important because they allow your voice in addition to thousands of others to come together as a united force and demand action on an issue. This activity is fantastic for engaging your community on the issue of e-cigarettes and allowing them to take action on a national platform.
Before the Event
During the Event
After the Event
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.
Adapted from Spencer Flanders, National Young Adult Ambassador - Nevada
Visuals can be incredibly powerful, but they’re the most powerful with a call to action. Make sure you provide enough context and information so that your community can take real action to reduce the toll of tobacco. Once you’ve captured their attention with a powerful visual about the problem, give them ways to be part of the solution
Train Up to Kick Butts
Host a Taking Down Tobacco 101 training for youth in your community to help create and #BeTheFirst tobacco-free generation.
Did you know that if we don’t continue the fight against big tobacco, 5.6 million kids (under 18 years old) alive today will ultimately die from smoking? That’s about the population of Minnesota! We can’t let that happen.
By becoming a certified Taking Down Tobacco trainer, you can host trainings in your community that will educate, inform, inspire, and activate action. Help train one million youth by 2020 and create the first tobacco-free generation. Are you ready?
Laptop, projectors and screen/wall
Before the Event:
Create your free Taking Down Tobacco account at www.takingdowntobacco.org.
Complete the Taking Down Tobacco 101 online course.
Complete the Become a Trainer online course, after which you can prepare to lead or guide a training.
Download everything you need to deliver a training, including the Trainer Manual.
Use the trainer manual to prepare for the training.
During the Event:
Utilize all the resources listed above to deliver an outstanding Taking Down Tobacco Training.
Promote any activities, events or campaigns your group is working on in your community.
Take a selfie with your training participants holding the #BeTheFirst sign.
After the Event:
Log your training by completing the Post-Training survey to earn points you can redeem for grants and gear!
Courses earn badges and points that can be redeemed for gear, activity kits and mini-grants.
The Zombie Walk will mobilize youth and young adults to take a public stand against the dangers of tobacco use. This event can be held in a variety of venues, ranging from outside of a store that promotes tobacco products to within a nearby decision-makers’ office. Take this as a chance to get creative, and adjust the venue and target audience to what will be most impactful in your community.
The Zombie Walk can be used as a storytelling and advocacy tool to grab the attention of stakeholders in Big Tobacco. It is also an attractive activity to the media, and is likely to grab the focus of community members to engage in the message of tobacco control.
Identify a date and time, venue, and target audience for your Zombie Walk. Locations could include outside of stores that sell tobacco products (as in the example video below), outside of legislative offices, or in high-traffic areas in your community.
Check limits on public protests by your city, county or state—get the permits that you need if rules are in place.
Recruit as many participants as possible—a gaggle of zombies is much more poignant than a handful!
Facilitate costume making for participants. This can include ripping/dirtying of clothing, makeup tutorials, and more!
Solidify the key messages of your walk. Are you looking to change a specific policy or action of a certain group? Adjust your messaging and materials accordingly.
Create protest signs and make sure that their wording aligns with your overall message and goal of the walk.
Conduct outreach to local media outlets to let them know about your event—this could be anything from print newspapers, to local TV news stations.
Practice your zombie walk!
Maintain a cohesive group message—remember what your main objective is.
Disperse your group to strategic locations throughout your venue—entrances, exits, employee hubs within the venue, etc.
Take photos and post them to social media to broaden the online reach of your event
Reflect with your participant group about what they learned
Follow up with the decision-makers or stakeholders that you targeted with your event—include photos from the walk and firsthand stories from participants.
Continue spreading the word about what your group did via social media, email newsletters, and other communications methods used by your group.
Watch this YouTube video
21 Reasons Why
95% of smokers begin smoking before the age of 21. While many states and cities have made efforts to raise the minimum age for tobacco purchasing from 18 to 21, underage smoking is still prevalent and barriers to initiating smoking remain low. The 21 Reasons Why activity gives members of your community the chance to speak out about this important policy change—through personal stories, statistics, or any other reasons to raise the minimum age of tobacco purchase.
21 Reasons Why can be used as a storytelling and advocacy tool to persuade decision-makers and engage community members.
Identify a date, time and venue for your campaign. This could be planned around Kick Butts Day, or planned close to any upcoming legislative activity regarding Tobacco 21 in your state.
Recruit as many participants as possible—at least 21!
Disseminate information about the Tobacco 21 policy change to participants—make sure this content is understandable for the age group that you are working with. Check your state health department and other state-sponsored websites for relevant resources for this.
Have a plan in place for how, and to whom, you will be sending the photos of your 21 Reasons. Involve your participant group in this decision so that they feel invested when the day of your event arrives.
During the Event:
Have each participant write a Reason Why with a number (1-21) attached (see example below) on a sheet of paper. Reasons could be anything from a personal story on the harms of tobacco use in their family or community, to a simple desire for the public to be healthier. No reason is too big or too small! The paper can also include things like their name, age, and hometown.
Take a photo of each person holding their sign. Be sure that the writing on the paper is clear and easy to read from the camera!
If time allows, film short video clips of youths holding their reason and speaking about it.
Facilitate conversations between participants as time allows, encouraging participants to discuss and internalize their reasons.
Depending on your plan of action for using the photos for advocacy, publish the photos/videos in the best way for your group. This could be a continuous stream of photos to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, a compiled album of photos sent to a state decision-maker, or a combination of both!
After the Event:
Reflect with your participant group about what they saw and learned
Follow up with policy makers with photos/videos and a summary of your event
Continue to spread the word about your event via social media, email newsletters, and other communications methods used by your group. This should include a call to action for others to urge local decision-makers to change the legal age of tobacco purchase to 21.
Who doesn’t love a little snail mail? Use this postcard party activity to let your decision-makers know what you are doing to #BeTheFirst tobacco-free generation and encourage them to join the fight against tobacco.
Identify when and where you will be having your postcard party. Will you be making postcards at an existing event or as a separate event? Consider hosting your postcard party after school, or making postcards at an existing tobacco prevention event you’re already planning!
Create and/or print your postcards
Download our free postcards and get them printed or design your own. Be sure to think strategically about what the postcard’s message is. Identify how you can use this postcard party to support any existing tobacco issues you are trying to tackle in your community. How are YOU fighting to create a tobacco-free generation, and what can decision-makers do to help?
Identify and gather materials
Gather additional materials you may need, like markers, stickers, additional pamphlets or fact sheets supporting your local tobacco prevention to personalize your postcards
Spread the word
Once you’ve identified your time, date and location for your party, it’s time to promote your event! Consider promoting your event through school announcements, local radio and TV stations, newspapers, social media, community calendars and websites and word of mouth!
Encourage event attendees/postcard party participants to write a message and sign postcards with their name and where they’re from. Messages can be specific to the topic you are advocating about or about why we need to create a tobacco-free generation. Be sure to have fact sheets and additional information on hand to explain to participants why we need to #BeTheFirst tobacco-free generation!
During your event, take plenty of pictures and post to Twitter, Instagram and Facebook using the hashtag #BeTheFirst! Encourage attendees to post to their social media channels as well.
After the Event:
Sign, Sealed & Delivered!
If you are planning on mailing the postcards to your decision-makers, be sure to have enough postage and the right mailing address on each card before dropping them in the mail. You can mail them individually or send them in one large envelope.If you are hand-delivering the post-cards, use a large mailing envelope to gather and deliver all the postcards! If you’re sending a lot of postcards together, consider writing a letter to accompany the postcards explaining what you’re advocating for and why.
Follow-up with your local media outlets with a press release and photos from your event to make it into your local paper or on TV or radio!
Smoke-Free Movies Night
Host a smoke-free movies night to raise awareness about how smoking is glamorized in youth-rated films and support smoke-free movies. This is a great activity to do with other youth organizations or as a fun family event! Find some of the best smoke-free G or PG rated films and be sure to have plenty of popcorn.
Identify a location
Decide on the approximate number of people to invite and whether you will need to find a location that has projection equipment available. If it is a smaller group, a school classroom with a large TV will be sufficient. Be sure to acquire the proper permissions to use these facilities. If you have the budget and time to plan a larger event, consider working with a local theater to host a screening!
Select the film(s) you want to showcase. A list of smoke-free movies can be found at smokefreemovies.ucsf.edu.
Promote the event and invite groups or family members to attend. Consider collaborating with other youth organizations to boost your reach.
Gather your refreshments and any additional supplies needed for the event. Double-check to make sure you have all the movies and necessary equipment ready and in working order.
Prepare a short pre-show speech or skit to share facts on the prevalence of smoking in the movies. Take it to the next level by planning a Mock Oscars ceremony where you recognize smoke-free movies, actors and actresses and studios who have reduced the amount of smoking in films. Practice your speech or skit!
Contact the media and in the few days before your event send out any press materials you have prepared.
During the Event:
Set up the room and greet guests as they arrive. Consider handing out palm cards with tobacco facts.
Lights, Camera, Action
Before the movie, present a few facts on the prevalence of smoking in movies or perform your skit.
Enjoy the show!
After the Event
Contact the media again! Be sure to send a press release and photos to any media outlets who didn’t show up
Upload photos and videos to social media
Maze of Deception
Shock and inform students and community members about Big Tobacco’s outrageous marketing schemes and motivate them to spread the word by creating a maze of deception lined with visuals and facts about how the tobacco industry is targeting youth to be their next replacement smokers.
Adapted from SWAT Region 4, Florida SWAT
Identify a location for the maze
Get permission from appropriate person to construct a maze of deception at the entrance of a school or community event
Build the maze
Build posters and large barrier walls out of cardboard with tobacco facts, quotes, and examples of tobacco industry marketing. Get creative!
Contact the media and make sure they know what you are doing, where you will be, and what time you will be there.
Put up the maze at the entrance of your event so that everyone must walk through it to enter the event. Station leaders from your group at the start and end of the maze to answer questions from participants and provide a call to action. Survey participants after they have gone through the maze to see if they learned something new or can remember a fact.
Upload photos and videos to social media to reach even more people.
Visuals can be incredibly powerful, but they’re the most powerful with a call to action. Make sure you provide enough context and information so that your community can take real action to reduce the toll of tobacco. Once you’ve captured their attention with a powerful visual about the problem, give them ways to be part of the solution.
Have you lost a loved one to tobacco-related disease? Use Kick Butts Day as an opportunity to honor those who have lost their lives to tobacco and to send a message to the tobacco industry.
By the time you finish reading this activity, another person will have died from a tobacco-related disease. Over 480,000 people die each year in the U.S. from this deadly addiction. That’s one death every 72 seconds – all day, every day. Still need convincing? Smoking kills more people than AIDS, car accidents, illegal drugs, murders, and suicides COMBINED.
Ready to take action?
Identify a busy location and get permission to set up your creative memorial display.
Identify your materials – what will your memorial look like? You can use unlit candles, posters with names of those who have died from tobacco-related diseases and signs featuring tobacco industry quotes or some of the shocking statistics mentioned above.
Some memorial events have included other props like flowers, ringing a bell every 72 seconds to represent another tobacco-caused death, or all the participants dressing in black.
A memorial can also deliver the message that Big Tobacco is trying to silence young people who are speaking out against them. Some youth participants have delivered this message by using black duct tape to tape their mouths shut. It adds to the somber tone of the memorial, attracts a lot of attention and symbolizes what Big Tobacco is doing as it continues to target kids with manipulative marketing.
Create a “memorial card” for people to either write the name of a loved one they have lost or a message to the tobacco industry.
Start gathering your props. Participants can borrow things from their homes or from friends to avoid having to purchase a lot of items.
Promote your event. If it’s a school activity, make another announcement. Send an email, make phone calls, or hang flyers - whatever it takes to make sure everyone will be there.
Make sure you have all your materials, especially any permits, and set up your memorial. Remember, do not light the candles - it’s a fire hazard and most public places won’t allow lit candles.
If you’re in a high traffic area, make sure you have people stationed at various points around the venue to hand out fliers and let people know why you are doing this event.
Encourage people to leave a tribute to a loved one or a message to Big Tobacco at the memorial and start incorporating these messages into the display.
Take photos! These can be sent to the media and posted to social media.
Contact the media again! Be sure to send a press release and photos to any media outlets who didn’t show up.
Upload photos and videos to social media.
Connecting the Dots
Educate your classmates on the toll of tobacco by creating a mysterious display of tobacco statistics and facts on “dots” hung up throughout your school, then connect the dots through school announcements, a story in the school newspaper or an assembly where you “connect the dots.”
Adapted from the South Dakota Department of Health
If you’re hosting an assembly, announce the meaning of the numbers and words on the baseballs around the school and share what your classmates/school can do take action to reduce tobacco use in your community.
Visuals can be incredibly powerful, but they’re the most powerful with a call to action. Make sure you provide enough context and information so that you’ve captured their attention with a powerful visual about the problem, give them ways to be part of the solution!
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