Health Department campaign targets young smokers

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(Host) The Vermont Department of Health is launching a new anti-smoking campaign on Monday that’s aimed at reaching a very specific group: people who are 18 to 24 years old.

Although the smoking rate in Vermont has declined overall, it remains high for young adults; an estimated 30 percent of them smoke. And health officials say it’s no surprise: the tobacco industry works aggressively to attract young people to their brands.

Moira Cook is Vermont’s tobacco control chief. She says the Department of Health is fighting back with a campaign that will focus on the shorter-term effects of smoking:

(Cook) “In doing our formative research with young adults, we found that the longer term impacts such as lung cancer and heart disease just weren’t motivating for this group. They wanted to know what could happen to them in the shorter term.”

(Host) Those shorter-term effects include premature wrinkles and impotence, topics that the Health Department will address in new print and radio materials. The campaign will also feature a “Group Quit Contest,” which Cook says encourages young adults to quit together.

(Cook) “Young adults really rely heavily on their peer group. They have a tight connection with their friends. And so we know that if they make an effort to quit together they may be more successful because they have that built-in motivation, and they can really push each other to stick with it.”

(Host) People who sign up for “Group Quit” teams will receive self-help materials and quit tips, and they’ll also be entered into a drawing worth up to $1,000. Eighteen to 24-year olds who are interested can call toll-free (877) YES-QUIT for more information.

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