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The 13th World Conference on Tobacco OR Health
Building capacity for a tobacco-free world
July 12-15, 2006, Washington, DC, USA
Objective: Empower youth to become smoke free advocates and peer educators through participating in the creation of an anti tobacco performance piece based on a myth. Aggressive Big Tobacco advertising, apathy among youth, and lax enforcement of Sales to Minors Regulations has led to a high smoking rate among teens in South Providence, RI. Concerned about these problems, the IIRI Tobacco Control Program adapted an Iranian myth into a modernized anti-tobacco puppet theater production in partnership with AmeriCorps Artists and Met School students.
Methods: Collaborating with artists and students to develop an anti-tobacco interactive performance, students at the Met School helped craft the puppets, write the script, research Big Tobacco marketing techniques, and administer tobacco surveys to fellow students.
Results: During the rehearsal period, informal discussions on tobacco convinced smoker participants to quit smoking. Youth participants researched how Big Tobacco targets minorities, and based on their observations, created oversized Paper Mache puppets representing characters in the original myth, later adapted for the modern setting of Tobacco Industry chicanery. The Puppet show "King Zahak and Temptations of Tobacco" was performed at schools, community fairs and at the National tobacco Conferences in Boston and Chicago. Student participants gained insight into the tobacco industry, the dangers of smoking, strategies to defeat peer pressure, working collaboratively towards a common goal and the responsibilities of community leadership.