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News Release

Campaign urges youth to ‘Know What’s In Your Mouth’

Apr 19, 2012
A youth-developed campaign aimed at raising awareness about chew tobacco – the latest product being pushed by the tobacco industry to get around smoke-free laws – has hit the streets and schools of Orillia.

A youth-developed campaign aimed at raising awareness about chew tobacco – the latest product being pushed by the tobacco industry to get around smoke-free laws – has hit the streets and schools of Orillia.

“Know What’s in Your Mouth focuses on countering the misinformation about the dangers of using chew tobacco,” said Shawna Frolick, a public health nurse with the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, who launched the campaign in Orillia secondary schools as a pilot project.

Many teens are not well informed about the dangers of chew tobacco, including mouth cancer and gum disease, or the fact that it is just as addictive as smoking. It was this lack of information which led the youth who designed the campaign, which features a billboard, school posters and an online presence, to name it Know What’s In Your Mouth.

“It’s a learning opportunity for everyone,” continued Frolick. “Often parents and teachers don’t realize that kids are using chew tobacco because they are not familiar with the product or the habits associated with it. A pop can or ice tea bottle on a desk for spitting, or a canister tucked away in a kid’s pocket, doesn’t ring any bells unless you are alert to the fact that kids are using and get hooked on chew tobacco.”

The youth were hired by the health unit to work over the summer and fall of 2011 to develop peer-to-peer messaging around tobacco use prevention. They chose to focus on chew tobacco because its use is becoming more common among young people in the region.

Along with the promotional materials and information about youth and chew tobacco on the health unit’s website, an implementation kit has been provided to secondary schools in Orillia, allowing youth in each school to take the lead and share it with their fellow students. Each kit includes a trivia game, P.A. announcements and giveaways, along with other chew tobacco resources.

Know What’s in Your Mouth is anticipated to be offered to all Simcoe Muskoka secondary schools in the fall. For more information about chew tobacco and the campaign call Your Health Connection at 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520 from Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. or visit simcoemuskokahealth.org or thephakz.ca.

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