Superheroes, Schools and Cyberspace Unite to Prevent Tobacco Use Among Florida Youth

Wednesday, April 2, 2008 General News
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla., April 1, 2008 The Tobacco Free FloridaCampaign is aggressively targeting the approximately 1.5 million youth ages 11to 17 with the campaign's cigarette and smokeless tobacco prevention message.The campaign's comprehensive approach includes youth-focused ads, in-schoolPSAs, a custom limited edition JUSTICE LEAGUE comic book, and onlineinitiatives such as downloadable Smoke-Free Songs, campaign sites on Facebookand MySpace and a YouTube video contest.

Recognizing the resurgence of comic book popularity among youth, thecampaign has partnered with DC Comics -- the largest English languagepublisher of comic books in the world -- with the "No Smoke Without Fire"custom comic book featuring the JUSTICE LEAGUE Super Hero team of SUPERMAN,BATMAN, ROBIN, WONDER WOMAN, THE FLASH and GREEN LANTERN. DC Comics' mostpopular characters battle cigarette smoke-generating machines and empoweryouth to avoid the dangers of the deadly habit. Comic books will bedistributed to middle school students across Florida and featured on theTobacco Free Florida website ( On Free Comic BookDay (May 3), participating comic book stores across Florida will offer freecopies of "No Smoke Without Fire" to youth and parents.

Teens are among the top Internet users who engage in online chats, e-mailand discussion forums. The Tobacco Free Florida campaign created profile pagesfor the two largest social networks on the web -- Facebook and MySpace. Thesesocial networking websites, which are twice as likely to be popular amongsmokers ages 18-24, give users the opportunity to affiliate themselves withthe Tobacco Free Florida campaign by becoming a "fan" (Facebook) or a "friend"(MySpace), post their comments and connect with others who are campaign fansand friends. After only a few weeks, the Facebook site has accumulated morethan 4,000 fans.

Since more than half of online teens download music, the campaign createdSmoke-Free Songs, which provides free downloadable songs from non-smokingFlorida bands including Maida Vale, Sarah Mac Band, The Twelfth Chapter, JonnyDiaz and Paul Clayton. New songs will be continuously added .

The campaign has also partnered with YouTube to sponsor the YouCare videocontest where entrants share why they don't smoke. The contest allows users tovote for their favorite submission and the top 50 videos will be shown on thefirst ever statewide On-Demand channel devoted exclusively to the campaign,reaching more than 2 million subscribers to Comcast and Bright House NetworksDigital Cable. A panel of judges will pick the grand prize winner who willreceive an Apple iMac(R) computer and an iPod(R) touch.

Smokeless tobacco is also a serious health issue. To educate youth on thedangers, the campaign created an ad series depicting baseball cards withplayers named Billy "Jawbreaker" Smith and "Silent" Evan Jackson. The adshighlight hard-hitting statistics including that chew users are 50 times morelikely to get cancer of the cheek and gums and that smokeless tobacco contains28 cancer-causing chemicals and three times the nicotine as cigarettes. Thesewill run in Sports Illustrated and the Florida High School Playbook.

Last year in Florida, 14.7% of high school students and 6.1% in middleschool reported they had smoked cigarettes once in the past 30 days. TheTobacco Free Florida Campaign in partnership with the Florida Department ofEducation is targeting these youth through the distribution of an anti-tobaccoPSA on the Florida Knowledge Network potentially reaching 600,000 middleschool students. The message is presented by teens and includes the short- andlong-term effects of smoking, the costs of the habit, and that you don't haveto smoke to fit in.

For additional information on the Tobacco Free Florida campaign, contactPam Schultetus at (850) 668-2222

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