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Eagle Valley student takes on big tobacco

Matt Terrell
Vail, CO Colorado

GYPSUM, Colorado “The first thing you see is the Marlboro Man.

He’s wearing a denim jacket, white shirt, cowboy hat and chaps. You see the shadow of a mountain range in the background, and a freshly lit cigarette is hanging out his mouth. It’s either sunrise or sunset, and the Marlboro Man seems pensive, yet relaxed.

This dude is rugged, this dude is handsome, and this dude smokes.



It’s a typical Marlboro cigarette magazine ad, says Alex Woods, a sophomore at Eagle Valley High School. He uses the Marlboro Man image in a short movie he produced illustrating what exactly “Big Tobacco” companies are advertising when they’re pushing their product.

Woods’ video won in the “Big Tobacco” category of the OwnYourC competition, a video contest where students create their own anti-smoking advertisements. The idea is to have them think about what it means to “own their choice” and make better decisions.



After zooming in on the Marlboro Man, and then another magazine ad of a glamorous brunette being offered cigarettes, Woods shows a graphic shot of a diseased pair of lungs, blackened and shriveled, and cancer stricken mouth with black nasty teeth.

He’s contrasting what tobacco companies show you, and what can actually happen to people who make a habit of smoking.

“It shows what Marlboro and those other companies promote, but the reality is the disgusting stuff, the bad teeth and the lungs,” Woods said.



Woods said he feels pretty strongly that smoking is pretty pointless.

“It’s not worth the little buzz you get from it,” he said.

There were 93 submissions in the contest in five categories: health effects, social effects, big tobacco, addiction and cosmetic effects. Woods won $1,000 for his entry.

If you view the films at the Own Your C Web site, you’ll see a wide variety of approaches.

One called “Love Your Lungs” shows a set of hands painting a picture of a heart, then tearing it in half while a female voice says, “You wouldn’t do this to your heart” Then the hands are painting a picture of a brain, which is crumpled up while a voice says, “And you wouldn’t do this to your brain.” Finally, you see a pair of lungs being drawn, and the paper is set on a plate and set on fire.

“So why would you do this to your lungs?”

Another shows two guys walking outside having a conversation ” they’re coughing so much though that they need subtitles.

“Hey man, I heard Jen broke up with you.”

“Yeah, she said she didn’t want to date a smoker.”

“Dude, lame.

“I know. She kept saying she couldn’t understand me anymore.”

Ron Beard, the high school’s broadcast and film teacher, said he and teacher Ryan Smiley had all the film students submit a video for the contest for a graded class project. Whether they’re producing public service announcements or music videos in class, students are learning how to tell a better story and how to keep someone’s attention, Beard said. It can be a powerful skill.

“As a filmmaker, you have the power to change someone’s emotions ” that’s big,” Beard said.

Visit http://videocontest.ownyourc.com/ to see all the submitted videos for the OwnyourC competition. Look for the video by Alex Woods, a sophomore at Eagle Valley High School, who won in the “Big Tobacco” category.

Staff Writer Matt Terrell can be reached at 748-2955 or mterrell@vaildaily.com.


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