National Non-smoking Week was established in 1977 by the Canadian Council for Tobacco Control(CCTC). More than an awareness campaign, the week was designed to be more than billboards and posters. “We actually want to move people to action,” Bob Walsh, executive director of the CCTC said.
According to Walsh, the CCTC achieves their goal by providing information to local agencies within smaller communities that help people quit smoking. Over the years, the CCTC has looked at various different factors to measure the success of the campaign including media measures and surveys.
For Walsh, the biggest accomplishment of the council has been it’s successful influence of so many smaller organizations people rely on for health information. “What I’m probably most proud of,” Walsh said, “is that so many local organizations have taken it and made it their own.”
One organization that’s embraced National Non-Smoking week is the Government of Manitoba. On Wednesday, the provincial government announced its latest installments of youth anti-smoking programs.
The Review and Rate program was renewed for a seventh year in Manitoba schools. Students watch smoking ads from around the world, then discuss which they think is the most effective. This year, students will watch 15 different ads. The ad students vote is most effective will be aired on television the next year.
Portage Collegiate Institute has been involved in the program for many years. Al Patterson, a physical education and health teacher with the school, thinks the Review and Rate program is a valuable tool. “Let’s face it, there are a lot of kids who smoke,” he said. “Anytime you can see those shocking eye-opening things it’s good.”
The videos are shown in phys. ed classes throughout the semester, and the goal is to give everyone in the school a chance to see them.
Smoking rates among youth aged 15 to 19 in Manitoba have gone down from 29 percent in 1998 to 18 percent in 2009. The Manitoba government hopes initiatives like National Non-smoking Week and Review and Rate will keep bringing that number down.