Brooklyn Center, MN – The TFY – Start Noticing youth performance was featured at the 5th Annual Health Fair and Hoops Fest, hosted by the Center of Hope and Compassion. Youth began the performance by announcing the launch of the Start Noticing coalition in Minnesota, an effort focused on getting people to start noticing tobacco advertisements in the community and their effect on youth tobacco use. Performers talked to the audience about the issue of in-store tobacco advertising, and specifically their plan to reduce tobacco ads at children’s eye-level (3 feet and below).
After the announcement, youth performed a series of dances and skits and showcased their video creations, all surrounding the theme of “They’re coming after you”—referring to tobacco industry’s tactics to attract young tobacco users.
TFY-Start Noticing youth members from the Center of Hope and Compassion, Lao Assistance Center of Minnesota, Minnesota African Women’s Association and Southeast Asian Community Council led all aspects of the performance from the initial stages of planning and creation all the way through production. This included writing scripts, casting actors, creating video, choreographing dances and advertising the event. The TFY – Start Noticing program’s youth leadership model encourages youth to be invested in program activities by creating and leading events such as this performance.
TFY – Start Noticing Campaign Objective
The first campaign objective of the Start Noticing coalition is the voluntary removal of convenience store tobacco advertisements placed at or below three feet, the average height of a three-year-old child.
Start Noticing is working with youth, parents, local community leaders and retailers to raise awareness and understanding of the campaign, ultimately focused on reducing youth exposure to tobacco advertising by asking retailers to remove tobacco advertisements placed at or below three feet.
Tobacco use is a very serious health issue affecting our community. Start Noticing confronts the tobacco industry at the place where they can influence youth openly and often: the place where tobacco is sold. While it may seem harmless, research has demonstrated that this type of advertising is particularly effective in influencing youth tobacco usage.
Tobacco Advertising Facts
Kids are three times more sensitive to tobacco advertising than adults and are more likely to be influenced to use tobacco by tobacco industry marketing than by peer pressure. One-third of underage experimentation with tobacco is attributable to tobacco company advertising.
Today’s average 14-year-old has been exposed to more than $20 billion in imagery, advertising and promotions since age 6, creating a familiarity with tobacco products and an environment in which smoking is seen as glamorous, social and normal.
Exposure to tobacco promotion causes children to initiate tobacco use.
We conducted a research assessment in 2007-08 that highlighted the prevalence of point-of-sale tobacco marketing in our communities—Brooklyn Center, New Hope and Crystal had an average of 59 tobacco ads per store.
Every day in the United States, 4,000 young people between 12 and 17 start smoking cigarettes and another 2,000 kids become regular smokers.
On average, teens visit convenience stores at least twice per week. Weekly or frequent exposure to retail tobacco marketing is associated with a 50 percent increase in the odds of ever smoking.
Increasing the number of youth using tobacco is important to tobacco companies because they need new people to replace their other customers who are dying.
The Northwest Hennepin Human Services Council was established in 1972 as a Joint Powers Agreement of member cities in Northwest Hennepin County. It is a multi-sector agency that does the regional research, planning and coordination of human services networks that make a difference in the lives of area residents. The agency creates connections between government, nonprofit, education, faith-based and business sectors and residents, as well as across systems and cultures. Visit us at: www.nwhhsc.org.