Written by: John DeRousie, Custom Marketing Solutions
OSWEGO, NY – It began with a simple question, How Does Tobacco Look on You? Earlier this year the Rural Health Network of Oswego County, working in collaboration with the Oswego County Health Department, and the Tobacco Free Network of Oswego County, launched a campaign to help decrease point of sale advertising and to raise awareness of tobacco advertising and promotional materials aimed at the target population of women between the ages of 14 to 24. In addition to increasing their outreach efforts to both the community and area health providers, the coalition added a new, high tech, weapon to their fight against tobacco.
Thanks to funding provided through John Snow, Inc and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health Project, the coalition purchased state of the art progression software that shows the physical effects of tobacco use over time. According to the coordinator of the Rural Health Network of Oswego County, Danielle Wert, “the software has been quite effective.”
“Research has shown that verbal warnings regarding future health problems caused by tobacco use are not very effective with youth, however, being able to actually show someone how his or her appearance changes as a result of tobacco use will have a far greater impact. Over the past five months we have used this software during our presentations and it has been interesting to see the response we received. Reactions ranged from shock to disbelief as the software displays in graphic fashion the dramatic effect that tobacco use has on one’s appearance over time. The software also shows the effects of obesity and sun exposure,” explained Wert.
The coalition’s How Does Tobacco Look On You? campaign addressed hundreds of Oswego County women age 14 – 24 over the past five months and culminated with a luncheon at Vona’s Restaurant in Oswego to recognize the many organizations that supported the efforts of the Rural Health Network of Oswego County, the Tobacco Free Network of Oswego County, and the Oswego County Department of Health during their How Does Tobacco Look on You? campaign. Wert said that the luncheon was held at Vona’s in appreciation of the restaurant’s decision to go smoke fee well in advance of the state mandate.
“We appreciate the tremendous support that we received from organizations such as Oswego County Opportunities, Oswego County Mental Hygiene, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oswego County, the American Cancer Society, Integrated Community Planning, Oswego Health, and Novelis, their concern for others, and their recognition of the positive impact that our efforts have on our community, played a major role in the success of our How Does Tobacco Look on You? campaign,” said Wert.
While the coalition members were pleased with the results of the How Does Tobacco Look on You? campaign, they added that their battle against tobacco and marketing efforts that tobacco companies use is ongoing. “We have a lot of work ahead of us,” said Abby Jenkins, program coordinator with the Tobacco Free Network of Oswego County. “The tobacco industry spends more than $12 billion annually on advertising and promotional materials, the biggest contributor to youth engaging in tobacco use. Because of this, we need to continue our efforts to reduce the use of tobacco. Smoking among women 14 to 24 in Oswego County is of epic proportions and needs to be addressed for the health of our county.”
Diane Oldenburg, senior public health educator with the Oswego County Health Department, corroborated Jenkins’ claims. “According to the 2010-2013 Oswego County Community Health Assessment, Lung cancer rates for women in Oswego County during 2001-2005 were 82.2 per 100,000 people as opposed to the 53.8 per 100,000 New York State incidence rate. According to NYS Department of Health data, 17.9% of the adult population in the US smoked in 2009, 18% smoked in NYS and an astounding 24.7% were smoking in Oswego County. This project, along with our other ongoing efforts will help raise awareness and provide resources to women ages 14 to 24 and will help decrease that extremely high percentage,” said Oldenburg.
Wert added that software demonstrations are still available for youth groups and organization and that would like to host a presentation. For more information, or to schedule a presentation, contact Wert at 315-342-0888 ext. 1457 or [email protected]