Youth and Community Engagement
Counter Tobacco’s Youth Engagement Activities help youth uncover point-of-sale (POS) issues in their communities. These activities can help tobacco advocates mobilize youth to address and curb tobacco within their neighborhoods.
Counter Tobacco’s youth engagement activities are pre-packaged interactive lesson plans that include the tools necessary to outline the problem, collect the data and present a compelling story about tobacco POS concerns to local decision makers and stakeholders. These activities not only raise awareness of tobacco POS tactics among youth but empowers young people to take an active role in spurring positive change in their communities.
Youth are powerful voices to highlight the prevalence of tobacco point-of-sale advertising and the effects that such advertisements have on younger generations. Research indicates that exposure to POS advertising has several touch points in engaging consumers to consider tobacco: smoking initiation, continued use and undermining quit attempts [1, 2]. Research also indicates that youth are three times more sensitive to tobacco advertising than adults .According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 400,000 underage individuals become smokers each year . Furthermore, the impact of tobacco POS advertising becomes magnified in cases where tobacco retailer density for a given community is particularly high or stores canvased with POS tobacco advertising are located in school zones.
Photos and visuals offer advocates a powerful tool to show others with decision-making power what the industry is doing at the point of sale. This guide uses the photovoice technique to expose the marketing strategies used by the tobacco industry and, by involving youth in the documentation process, to educate communities about the risk of this marketing. Education about the problem and exposing the industries’ tactics are critical components to help tobacco control advocates build support for and enact health-promoting policy interventions.
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 teams compete to identify the most problematic tobacco industry activities in their area by visiting stores and documenting what they find. Scavenger hunt items include: 20-packs of flavored little cigars priced at less than $2.00 per pack or tobacco products displayed near candy.
Tobacco control advocates map tobacco retailers and fast food restaurants in their community. This activity helps 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; for example, nationally, there are about 30 tobacco retailers for every one McDonalds.
What if you couldn’t tell the difference between a product that was good for you and one that could kill you? The tobacco industry is betting on the fact that our kids can’t. In this activity 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 using the methods outlined in the Media Advocacy Kit included in this activity guide.
Use this activity to discover and document the influence that Big Tobacco has in your community and craft a plan to do something about it. This activity was created for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids 2013 Youth Advocacy Symposium.