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BURNING QUESTION

- Supplying Cigarettes to Underage Teens is a ‘Bad Way to Be Nice’, Health Unit Advises -

What would you say if a teenager asked you for a cigarette? Would you give or sell a cigarette to the teen, figuring you were being nice?

Those are the types of questions being posed in a Bad Ways to Be Nice awareness campaign that aims to convince adults that there is no excuse for giving cigarettes to teens. Not only is it illegal to supply cigarettes to people under 19 years of age, the Haliburton, Kawartha Pine Ridge District Health Unit warns the practice can also help young people become addicted to tobacco products.

“Some people might think they’re just trying to be nice by giving a cigarette to an underage teen, but in fact, they are doing more damage than good,” says Karen Taylor, a Public Health Nurse with the HKPR District Health Unit.

The HKPR District Health Unit is among six health units in the Central East Tobacco Control Area Network that have partnered with Not To Kids Coalition to develop the Bad Ways to Be Nice campaign. The campaign features a Bad Ways to Be Nice website, video, online ads, social media posts and related resources aimed at educating and encouraging adults not to supply anyone under the age of 19 years with cigarettes and other tobacco products. This fall, the Bad Ways to be Nice campaign was promoted at the Lindsay Exhibition and is currently being highlighted to students at the Frost Campus of Sir Sandford Fleming College in Lindsay.

Campaign research done with young adults 19 to 25 years of age found they commonly gave cigarettes to underage teens, especially a younger friend or sibling. “When asked why they did this, most young adults said it was the easiest thing to do and they were just trying to be nice,” Taylor adds.

The Bad Ways to Be Nice campaign is all about helping adults say ‘no’ to requests for cigarettes from underage teenagers, Taylor notes. Among the tips being offered to adults:

• Let underage teens know that giving them cigarettes isn’t doing them any favours

• Tell them you feel uncomfortable and don’t want to get in trouble

• Let them see the package warning labels, to remind them of the health effects

• Tell them about a negative personal experience related to smoking, if you have one

• Remind them that quitting is hard.

“Supplying cigarettes to teens isn’t nice to you either, especially if you are caught doing it,” says Taylor. Under Ontario law, supplying tobacco to a person under 19 years of age can result in a $365 fine.

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For media inquiries, contact:

Karen Taylor, Public Health Nurse, HKPR District Health Unit, (705) 324-3569, ext. 2240,

or Jennifer Robertson, Public Health Nurse, HKPR District Health Unit, (705) 324-3569, ext. 2302

or Fyffe Murdock, Public Health Worker, HKPR District Health Unit, (705) 324-3569, ext. 2228.

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