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Kiwi youth to join global smokefree movement

March 14, 2014

Kiwi youth to join global smokefree movement

Massey University is bringing a 15-year-old British school girl to New Zealand to inspire Kiwi youth to start their own smokefree movement.

Katie Lou Holland will be one of two international speakers at Massey’s Smokefree Summits, a series of events in March to be held at each of the university’s three campuses. She will be joined by Helen Casstles, a smokefree health advisor from the UK’s National Health Service.

The Smokefree Summits represent the final stage of Massey’s ‘It’s my Life’ campaign, which asked New Zealanders aged between 12 and 24 to create a poster, video or app that inspires young people to support a smokefree New Zealand by 2025.

The winners of the nationwide competition will be announced at the summits, which will be festive affairs with bands and other entertainment. The aim, says summit project leader Associate Professor Elspeth Tilley, is to convey a serious message in a way that young people will respond to positively.

“We’ve invited Katie to be part of the summits because she’s a member of the hugely successful youth smokefree group D-MYST in the United Kingdom,” Dr Tilley says.

“The aim of this whole project is to reach out to young New Zealanders and encourage them to become part of the global youth smokefree movement. Nothing like that exists in New Zealand and Kiwi youth need to be part of the conversation.”

The ‘It’s My Life’ project has seed funding to establish regional youth smokefree groups, and Massey staff will mentor them by helping to develop marketing, communication and other business skills, as well as assistance in understanding health-related research.

“At each summit, as well as having a hub of smokefree organisations on hand and inspirational speakers, we’ll have information packs for students to take back to their schools that will ask them to think how they might get on board with the global smokefree movement,” Dr Tilley says.

Katie Lou Holland will speak at all three events to share insights from D-MYST’s SmokeOff campaign, which aims to make television progamming before 9pm smokefree. She says young people usually start smoking because of external influences – their families, their peers, and what they see in the media.

“The media and celebrities can be hugely influential,” she says. “On the television you always see people smoking – I think it’s being introduced into plotlines more and more and it’s also been glamorised by celebrities.”

D-MYST’s SmokeOff campaign has included a street demonstration and petition calling for British soap operas Coronation Street and Eastenders to go smokefree or screen after 9pm.

“We asked people to sign postcards with a pledge saying they don’t want any smoking in Coronation Street or Eastenders,” she says. “We took 10,000 signatures to send to OFCOM, which is our television regulator, asking for Coronation Street and Eastenders go smokefree or screen after 9pm, which is the watershed when young people stop watching tv.”

Holland says her smokefree activism has been motivated by her own mother’s smoke-related health problems.

“Back in 2003 my mother had to have a huge operation in her chest area that was quite horrific. I remember visiting her in hospital and there were all these tubes everywhere and it made me want to do something to stop other families and friends having to experience that situation.”

For more information about the ‘It’s My Life’ campaign and the Smokefree Summits visit: www.smokefree-itsmylife.org.nz

Smokefree summit details:

Wellington – March 24, 2014 at the Massey University Wellington campus
Event starts at 11am at The Great Hall, Museum Building, Massey Wellington Buckle St entrance.
Highlights include: Opening by Associate Health Minister Jo Goodhew; performances by World Hiphop Unite World Champions Infinite and bands Redlight Rhythm and The Blind; ZM Black Thunders onsite doing live crosses, giveaways and games; Ignite Sports Trust’s trampolining soccer cage; community groups including smoking cessation organisations; free food and giveaways.

Palmerston North – March 26, 2014 at the Massey University Manawatū campus
Event starts at 11am at Turitea campus main Central Concourse next to the library.
Highlights include: Opening by Associate Health Minister Tariana Turia; Manawatū Turbos running sports activities; community groups including smoking cessation organisations; bands and loads of giveaways.

Auckland – March 28, 2014 at the Massey University Albany campus
Event starts at 11am in Student Central.
Highlights include: Hip hop crew and band performances; community groups including ASH, Quit Bus and Pacific Beartbeat; loads of giveaways including vouchers from 5+ a Day, Shoe Clinic, Whittaker’s, Burger Fuel, Mac Pac, Burger Wisconsin, and AJ Hackett Bungee.

ENDS

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