College targets children in anti-smoking videos

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STUDENTS at Edinburgh College have created a powerful series of videos aimed at preventing a new generation of potential smokers from picking up the habit.

The project, a collaboration between the college’s Creative Industries department and NHS Lothian Health Promotion Service, uses hard-hitting facts, humour, animation and the testimonies of real-life smokers, to convince youngsters that the risks of tobacco far outweigh the benefits.

Rebecca Wilson, Teeshna Hurrydass, Kal Cockburn and Ben Girvan. Picture: Ian Georgeson

Rebecca Wilson, Teeshna Hurrydass, Kal Cockburn and Ben Girvan. Picture: Ian Georgeson

The short films, produced by nine final year HND computer, art & design students, are now to be distributed to secondary schools and youth agencies across the Lothians.

Senior health promotion specialist from NHS Lothian, Colin Lumsdaine, who hosted the premiere of the DVDs at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, said: “Every year in the UK 13,000 people die because of smoking. The key to bringing this number down is stopping young people from starting in the first place, and 16 to 24-year-olds are the group that present the biggest challenge.

“The idea was that the students could highlight the anti-smoking message using their own unique perspective.”

Alan Hunter’s video, Why Start Smoking?, documented his own battle to quit smoking, and how after many failed attempts, he found the 
support of the NHS made all the difference.

Alan, 35, who lives in Bonnyrigg, said: “I’d been thinking about giving up for a while and when I heard about this project I thought why not just quit and make a film out of that? I remember shrugging off anti-smoking films when I was at school, thinking: ‘That’s just some actor pretending’. So I hope the fact this is a real person telling their own story might help.”

Kal Cockburn, 24, who lives in Livingston, took a slightly different approach, using his own experience working in a supermarket kiosk to create an animated short. Kal’s film, Smoking and You, follows three young smokers on their journey from beginning the habit during their carefree youth to dealing with the issues that affect them ten years down the line.

He explained: “At work I often have to sell people cigarettes and because we operate a very strict ID policy I do have to refuse people service quite regularly. It’s really stuck with me how angry people become when I have to say no. I’ve even had people threatening to wait outside the store for me until I’ve finished my shift. If my film stops just one person from starting smoking, then that would be enough for me.”

The videos, and other work done by the entire final year, can be viewed at an exhibition at the Arts Complex in Meadowbank on May 31.