We’ve just launched this year’s Crofton Awards, celebrating the fact that more and more young people in Scotland are choosing not to smoke, and helping them to resist tobacco industry attempts to recruit a new generation of smokers.
While the tobacco companies spend millions of pounds defending their right to use attractive branding and packaging, the Crofton Awards, named after two of Scotland’s health campaign pioneers, will provide funding and other support to youth groups highlighting the truth about tobacco and health.
ASH Scotland runs the Crofton Awards in partnership with REHIS (Royal Environmental Health Institute for Scotland), with the winners receiving cash prizes and professional support to help with their work. Recent winners have made an educational film, run a peer education project, linked with Uruguay, explored smoking as an issue amongst Muslim youth and developed resources for young people with complex learning needs.
The latest Scottish figures show that 97% of 13 year olds and 87% of 15 year olds are not regular smokers, the best figures since surveys began in the 1980s. But the sad fact is that tobacco companies are well aware that most smokers start before they are 18 and deliberately try to recruit young people as a new generation of smokers. They know that their brands and designs make tobacco more appealing to young people, and that is why they are desperately resisting attempts to put tobacco into plain, standardised packaging.
All the more important then that entering the Crofton Awards is easy, and free for all youth groups. We look forward to receiving another impressive field of imaginative ideas and actions – so make sure your youth group is part of it.