Local youth redefine "extreme’ in Aspen
The youth are part of a movement called Get R!EAL – Resist! Expose Advertising Lies – which is aimed at empowering young people against tobacco industry marketing tactics that target them. The goal is also to provide teens with skills and information to make educated choices about tobacco use, say organizers.
Currently, there are more than 450 young people involved nearly 50 Get R!EAL youth coalitions associated with schools and community-based organizations throughout the state. Participants at this weekend’s events will included youth members of local Get R!EAL coalitions from around the state as well as non-coalition youth who were interested in learning more about the movement.
The weekend will kicked off Saturday with the first of four scheduled Regional Tobacco Forums in Glenwood Springs, where the teenagers learned how to use tools like the Get R!EAL advocacy guide to spot advertising aimed at youth.
This weekend ended on Sunday with a public education campaigns in downtown Aspen and Snowmass Village. The youth’s message compared the risks of participating in “extreme” winter sports to those associated with using tobacco.
“We want the community to know that what they may consider to be “risky’ activities, such as the skiing and snowboarding events on display at this year’s Winter X Games, are fairly benign compared to the risky behavior of tobacco use,” said Scott Smith, youth spokesperson for the local Get R!EAL coalition. “During 2002, 21 people died in skiing and snowboarding accidents in Colorado while approximately 4,200 Coloradans died from tobacco use.
“By no means do we want to downplay the skill and daring that will be displayed by this year’s Winter X Games’ competitors,” Smith continued. “But we do want Coloradans to better understand that tobacco use is not a harmless habit, but a behavior that comes with extreme consequences.”
The Get R!EAL members said they were pleased that this year’s X Games were free from tobacco industry sponsorship. The Lorillard Tobacco Co. was a major sponsor at last year’s X Games with a booth pitching its youth prevention program, “Tobacco is Whacko if You’re a Teen.”
“Get R!EAL believes that tobacco company sponsorship, in any form, does not belong at such high profile events that primarily target youth,” said Smith. “We hope that this year’s tobacco sponsorship free X Games is setting a sponsorship standard that future X Games and other similar events will follow.”
The Get R!EAL events this weekend were the first of four “regional tobacco forums” that will be conducted in various areas of the state throughout the coming months. The future forums will be held in Pueblo on Jan. 31, in Greeley on Feb. 7 and in Denver on Feb. 21.
For more information about Get R!EAL or the upcoming forums, contact Sally Casey, Get R!EAL
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