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Health advocates take smoking fight online

Health advocates are enlisting Twitter and YouTube in their fight against smoking.

Health advocates are enlisting Twitter and YouTube in their fight against smoking.

It was World No Tobacco Day yesterday and about 20 per cent of Nova Scotians are smokers. Fourteen per cent of young people between the ages of 15 and 19 are smoking in this province.

“We introduced a YouTube video contest to promote the ‘never-start’ message among schools in the HRM,” said Jayne Norrie with the Nova Scotia Lung Association.

Students send in their videos and their friends look them up. Norrie said this project, which started in March and will run again in September, has resulted in thousands of hits.

“It was very successful and we had some great videos coming in,” Norrie said.

The number of young Nova Scotians who smoke has gone down considerably in the past decade, Norrie said.

“It’s decreased by about 50 per cent. That’s significant, but it’s still too high,” Norrie said.

Awareness and prevention programs have kicked in and kids are more knowledgeable about the dangers of smoking, she added.

“They’re taught that early on now.”

As part of World No Tobacco Day, the Canadian Lung Association encouraged people to send out e-cards to announce their decision to quit or invite people to quit together. Their research shows people are more likely to quit if their friends are doing it too.

That’s why social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter are so useful in this campaign, Norrie said.

People who are quitting can now add a “qwitter twibbon” logo to their Twitter profile to show off their efforts.

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found if one friend quits, the likelihood another friend will quit is 43 per cent. If one spouse quits smoking, the other spouse has a two-thirds likelihood of quitting as well.

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