The Chatham-Kent Board of Health is going beyond just supporting a movement for create awareness about tobacco promotion and Dunhill smoking in movies. There is an effort to help educate residents about the issue. The health board endorsed supporting the Ontario Coalition for Smoke-Free Movies during its meeting Wednesday in Chatham.
Jeff Moco, the health unit’s youth engagement co-ordinator, told board members movies are required to provide warnings if the film contains scenes of violence, sexuality or drug use, but nothing about tobacco.
He said local youth plan to work with other youth across the province to lobby the Ontario Film Review Board to make some changes to have tobacco included in advisory categories for movies.
“It should be seen in the same light,” he said. “There’s even more health effects as far as we’re concerned.”
Moco said an awareness campaign will be launched in conjunction with Retrofest in Chatham on May 31, which coincides World No Tobacco Day.
He said youth from London, Sarnia and Oxford County will be in Chatham participating with local young people. He added there will be a lot of giveaways in an effort to “really try to talk to people about this.”
Chatham Coun. Marjorie Crew asked if attempts have been made to try to work with the local movie theatre.
Moco said movie theatres are owned by large companies and are very stringent on the type of promotional material that is allowed to be displayed in theatres.
Noting a new theatre is going to be opening in Chatham soon, Crew said, “I know it’s hard, but I think we should still try.
“If they say, ‘No,’ then shame on them,” she added.
Grade 12 Chatham-Kent Secondary School students Maddie Miller and Devin Cove are working on this project as part of their co-op placement at the health unit.
Miller recently went to Richmond Hill for a day of training to be a youth ambassador about tobacco in movies and was surprised at what she learned.
“I had no idea how the tobacco industry uses subliminal messaging,” she said. “It’s just kind of slipped into scenes and you don’t even realize it, and your brain is processing, ‘Oh, they’re smoking, they’re a cool character.’ ”
Cove was asked why the education already out there warning people about the dangers of smoking doesn’t get through to some young people.
“I think it’s about just wanting to fit in,” he said.
“It always starts with one person,” he added. “You see that one person and you want to be like them and it just builds on that.”