Youth film makers awarded tobacco-control prizes

Staff Reporter

Islamabad—In an attempt to counter tobacco industry marketing campaign to entice youth, TheNetwork for Consumer Protection has launched on a campaign to engage students of leading schools of twin cities to make films on tobacco control and retireve the social media space occupied by the tobacco industry.
In this regard a special ceremony was held in Beacon House in Rawalpindi to award those film makers who produced tobacco control films and received maximum likes on facebook. The first position was bagged by Qasim Mehmood followed by Muhammad Ammad’s and his team in the second place and Muhammad Faraz and his team stood third in the short film making competition.
Interestingly, there was no jury to evaluate the competing films. Instead facebook likes were used as a criterion to select the best three.
Explaining the theme of the competition Dr Maria Ahmed Qureshi said that the presence of a huge number of youth as part of Pakistani population is quite mouth watering for the tobacco industry. No wonder it wants to make it nicotime addictive that would translate into a huge number of loyal customers for at least the next 40 years. The tobacco industry is targeting youth by using different tactics to promote tobacco use among youth playing havoc with children’s lives using various advertising methods such as providing colorful posters with catchy slogans to shop keepers, power walls, retailer incentives, branding of shops, well designed and brightly colored attractive cigarette packs and other promotional activities. But its unfortunate, she lamented, that whereas these families hospital bills will increase so will the government’s revenue. A government survey Global Youth Tobacco survey 2014 shows that 13.3 pc boys and 6.6pc girls (aged 13-15 years) are currently tobacco smokers. Evidences show that the smoking trends are on a rise and if current smoking trends continue we will soon be facing an uncontrollable tobacco epidemic where the productivity of our future generations will be greatly reduced due to deadly tobacco related causes such as cancers, heart disease, respiratory diseases, damages to the nervous system ,infertility etc.
She revealed that it’s very unfortunate that the tobacco industry is allowed to target youth in schools, colleges and universities on the name corporate social responsibility (CSR).
Asking the winning students and their parents to express how the first hand experience to learn about tobacco and its industry affected their perspectives. The winner of first prize Qasim Mehmood said that it was good experience to make film on tobacco control; it is serious threat for health and now we are tobacco control advocates. Muhammad Ammad winner of the second prize said that it challenging to build a comparison between a smoker and non smoker. Ands to convince upon the audiences that non smoking is a preferred option. “It was great opportunity to learn about tobacco industry tactics to promte smoking in our schools,” he added.
Muhammad Faraz winner of third prize said that from here we will go straight to a party where we will establish that youth can have fun without tobacco. He promised to play a pro-active role to end the menace of smoking from schools.
The parents of the winners also expressed their views on the competition stating that it is good platform for children to develop their own perspective about on moral issues, such type of campaign should be continued in future to boost the efforts for tobacco control and sensitize the children about tobacco danger and different tact’s used by industry. They paid thanks to TheNetwork for arranging film making competition.
One of the success story of the intervention was that a group of students were inspired to establish their own studio where they will be producing anti-smoking movies and place it on social media.
Ms Sidra Qasim, Principal, Beaconhouse School Rawalpindi, that hosted the event said that such activities where students are involved directly in the entire process from understanding the concept and developing a short film to become an advocate of that idea gets deeply ingrained in their minds.
“Such competitions also encourage,” she emphasized, “students to explore their abilities, polish their ideas and promote public health objectives. She said that children should not waste their parent’s money on purchasing tobacco products as this will be a deception not only towards their parents but to themselves as well. She appreciated the efforts of TheNetwork and said that such collaborative should continue for the betterment of our youth.

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