- Yesterday in Mississauga, Dr. Jeffrey Wigand, whose battle with the tobacco
industry inspired the Oscar-nominated movie, "The Insider", revealed
the horrifying truths behind tobacco marketing to shocked students, health
professionals and community partners.
"Hook them young, hook them for life is the not-so-silent message
in tobacco advertising," stated Wigand, the former head of research
and development at Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation. "Tobacco
companies use the media, the entertainment industry, sports events, music
and deceptive advertising to introduce children to tobacco."
Dr. Wigand was in Mississauga to help launch Peel Health's new Tobacco
Youth Initiative pilot project, and to speak at a Peel Heart Health Network
"Tobacco companies ignore the sobering reality that smoking before
the age of fifteen puts you at TEN times more risk to get cancer than if
you started at age twenty-five," exclaimed Wigand. "And more than
eighty percent of today's tobacco users became addicted before the age of
Dr. Wigand was thrust into international prominence in 1995 when he became
the tobacco industry's highest-ranking former executive to publicly address
the health and safety issues of tobacco use. Since then, Wigand has traveled
the world, through his non-profit organization Smoke Free Kids, Inc., to
help reduce teen tobacco use.
After his evening presentation, Dr. Wigand was presented with the Peel
Heart Health Network's Healthy at Heart Award for his leadership, commitment
and advocacy for youth through Smoke-Free Kids, Inc. Ten-year-old Palgrave
resident D.J. Austin, who won the Healthy at Heart Award in 2000, presented
Wigand with the award. Wigand was clearly moved by young D.J., who described
how his father's death from a heart attack at age 41 inspired the young
man to improve his own heart health through exercise, healthy eating and
Peel Health's Tobacco Youth Initiative, a pilot program in partnership
with the Dufferin-Peel District Catholic School Board and Peel District
School Board, will encourage youth to live tobacco-free and increase their
awareness of the marketing tactics of the tobacco industry.
Children and teens are also the focus of the new Smoke-Free By-laws in
Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon. Second-hand smoke is a serious health
hazard, particularly for children.
Under the new By-laws, all restaurants, banquet halls, food courts and
the food areas in recreational facilities in the Region of Peel must be
smoke-free or provide an enclosed, separately ventilated smoking room by
June 1, 2001.