(Brampton) – Peel Health's youth tobacco advocacy group is encouraging fellow teens to "dump" their cigarettes for at least one day as part of its Make it your EX campaign. The program is part of a grassroots, stop-smoking effort called extinguish that is being taken to middle and high schools throughout Caledon, Brampton and Mississauga.
Make it your EX encourages youth to trade the cigarettes they would smoke in a single day for things like t-shirts, hoodies and more. The trade allows smokers to see what it’s like to go a day without a smoke.
"Giving up smoking for even one day is the first step toward quitting," says Vaibhav Gupta, a member of extinguish and a student at Erindale Secondary School in Mississauga. "And quitting for one day is a definite success – it can turn into two days, a week or even more!"
Make it your EX, which has collected hundreds of cigarettes at just a small number of events, has been received well by smokers and non-smokers alike.
"Smokers at my school listen and respect what we have to say," says Clint Wilson, a member of extinguish and a student at Mayfield Secondary School in Caledon. "We're not anti-smoker – we're anti-tobacco industry, and there’s a real difference."
The group's slogan – "They trick. They kill. They lie. Let's extinguish the source" – speaks to the ways the tobacco industry tries to manipulate young people through product placement in movies and other parts of youth culture. The members of extinguish are working to let other teens know the industry’s tactics are all about exploitation.
"Big tobacco is just trying to trick us into smoking by making it look cool and normal." says Jasleen Singh, another member of extinguish and a student at Turner-Fenton Secondary School in Brampton. "We're passionate about helping our peers uncover the truth and stay away from tobacco."
The extinguish team has already made a big difference in the lives of teens across Peel. "Make it your EX was the extra boost of support that a girl at my school needed to quit smoking for good," adds Wilson. "Every teen who quits smoking helps to break the grip the tobacco industry has on young people."
The extinguish youth advocacy program is part of Peel Health's work to promote a Smoke-Free Ontario. The Smoke-Free Ontario Act, which also eliminates designated smoking rooms in workplaces and public places, and strengthens laws to prevent tobacco sales to minors, comes into effect across the province on May 31, 2006. The Smoke-Free Ontario Act strengthens the already strong smoke-free by-laws in effect in Brampton, Caledon and Mississauga.
For more information on extinguish and its Make it your EX program, call the Region of Peel – Public Health at 905-799-7700. For more information on the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, visit www.smokefree-peelregion.ca.