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West Kildonan Collegiate
Apr 01, 2023
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The S.W.A.T. team is a group of West Kildonan Collegiate students who are actively involved as tobacco control leaders in their school and community. They have developed a peer-led prevention program and have undertaken a number of advocacy activities.
The S.W.A.T. team has partnered with the Manitoba Medical Association to protest the on-going glamorization of smoking in movies aimed at youth audiences. In May 2005 and in November 2006, they presented the Black Lung Awards involving all of the members as a spoof of the Academy Awards. It was a great success!
Since 2001, they have addressed over 8,200 students providing awareness, education, and support. The S.W.A.T. team is making a tangible difference and has been recognized for their efforts from the Minister of Healthy Living, the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba, Manitoba Lung Association. In 2005/2006, they received the Youth In Action Award and Award of Merit.
Black Lung Awards
The S.W.A.T. team in cooperation with the Manitoba Medical Association presented the annual Black Lung Awards to protest the glamorization of smoking in movies. This is a multi-media campaign that is written and produced by students to draw attention to the amount of tobacco use in movies. S.W.A.T. students go to different movies and track smoking and product placement of tobacco products. The students then created an Academy Awards type presentation. The black lung awards are given to actors, actresses and movies that promote smoking. The categories are:
      • Losers who are actually winners (not smoking in the movie)
      • Children’s animation
      • Vintage movies
      • Chick flicks
      • Romantic comedy
      • Horror
      • Drama
      • Wrinkle Award to the cutest, hottest actor/actress who smokes in movies
      • Classic Disney category
      • Youngest actor to smoke
      • Musical
      • All time worst movie
      • Sneakiest product placement
The Pink Lung Award goes to the smoke free movie.

​​SWAT Team at national anti-tobacco forum

June 2005

Adapted from the Doctors Manitoba newsletter, Rounds
Johnny Depp and Renee Zelleweger shared the spotlight with other Hollywood stars when their harmful influence on young movie fans was recently showcased.
The presentation of "Black Lung Awards" for on-screen smoking headlined a May 18 news conference at the Globe Theatre in Winnipeg, hosted by West Kildonan Collegiate's SWAT TEAM (Students Working Against Tobacco).
During the same entertaining but sobering event, the students released information from a recent study they conducted on smoking in movies and the effect it has on their peers. Doctors Manitoba supported this research project by purchasing discounted tickets from Globe Cinemas for the students' use in monitoring movies over the past two months.
We also sponsored a visit to Winnipeg in conjunction with the SWAT news conference by "the most hated man in Hollywood", Professor Stanton Glantz from the University of California. The well-known anti-tobacco crusader spoke about his mission to convince Hollywood to give up smoking in movies because of its strong link to young first-time smokers.
Dr. Glantz later took the same message to meetings with the Minister of Healthy Living and Manitoba Film Classification Board. He is urging that all movies with smoking content be rated 18A (adult accompaniment) and be preceded by anti-smoking ads.

April 2006

Adapted from the Doctors Manitoba newsletter, Rounds

With indoor smoking bans now offering one of the strongest forms of public health protection, Manitobans are concerned that children remain vulnerable to another tobacco exposure hazard. At a news conference on February 27, Doctors Manitoba released information from a recent Manitoba survey on attitudes about the amount of smoking that children and adolescents see in movies.

"Despite the fact that fewer adults are smoking in real life, there has been a significant increase of smoking in movies over the last several years," stated Dr Mark Taylor, a long-time Doctors Manitoba anti-tobacco activist and member of our Public Health Issues Committee. "Since young people are frequent movie viewers, they are being exposed to unrealistic smoking scenarios on a regular basis. This is a concern."

To convey the magnitude of the problem and its potential impact on public health, Dr. Taylor cited the research data backing a scientific consensus that movies are the primary recruiter of new young smokers. (See sidebar below).

Doctors Manitoba is lobbying film classification authorities in Manitoba to treat on-screen smoking the same way as offensive language. Any movie showing or implying tobacco use would be rated "A18" (adult accompaniment if under 18).

"Filmmakers routinely calibrate violence, sexual situations and language for audiences of different ages," Dr. Taylor explained. We want the Film Classification Board to take smoking as seriously as it takes offensive language. We want them to stand up to the plate and stop condoning disease and addiction in youth."

Adding smoking to the list of rating determinants would not stop any filmmaker from depicting tobacco use in any manner in any film, Dr. Taylor pointed out. It simply means that smoking would be factored into the rating calculation. In his concluding remarks to reporters, Dr. Taylor said this tobacco reduction initiative poses a unique opportunity.

"It's rare in public health to be able to so decisively confront a terrible epidemic and spare millions of lives and untold suffering through simple actions that require little investment of resources and government intervention."

Doctors Manitoba applauds young film critics in panning tobacco on big screen

April 2006

Adapted from the Doctors Manitoba newsletter, Rounds

Despite her wholesome on-screen image in Disney movies, teen actress Lindsay Lohan and the Trailer Park Boys may be in the same league as unhealthy role models for youth. What the real-life Ms. Lohan has in common with the fictional Julian, Ricky and Bubbles - besides millions of young fans - is an emphatic thumbs down for smoking from a group of concerned entertainment critics at Winnipeg's West Kildonan Collegiate. As a showcase for its extensive research on the influence of smoking in movies, the high school's SWAT team (Students Working Against Tobacco) recently unveiled these and other picks for worst offenders during the second annual Black Lung Awards ceremony.

Modelled after last year's inaugural event, the Oscar-style parody drew a large crowd of preteens and news reporters to CanWest Global Theatre at The Forks on February 21. That date closely preceded the International Day of Action Against Smoking in the Movies on February 28 and the Academy Awards on March 5.

Dr. Mark Taylor brought greetings on behalf of the Doctors Manitoba Public Health Issues Committee, which supports the SWAT team initiative by covering the cost of movie tickets for students assessing tobacco content. He applauded their efforts in promoting peer awareness of an alarming upward trend in this regard, contrary to the real-life decline in smoking among adults.

April 2007

Adapted from the Doctors Manitoba newsletter, Rounds

After leaving the Oscars ceremony empty handed, Leonardo DiCaprio outshone his film star rivals a few days later in a more dubious performance category. He was the "Male Chimney" favorite of West Kildonan Collegiate's SWAT team (Students Working Against Tobacco) when its picks for Hollywood's worst influences on potential young smokers were unveiled during the third annual Black Lung Awards ceremony.

As a showcase for the students' extensive research on the harmful effects of on-screen smoking, the Academy Awards parody again drew a large crowd of pre-teens and news reporters.

"On-screen tobacco is a primary recruiter of new, young smokers," Doctors Manitoba spokesperson Dr. Mark Taylor stated in a media announcement preceding the March 2 event. "Over the past seven years, Hollywood's youth-rated movies have been more likely to feature tobacco than A18-rated films."

Our association continues to support the SWAT team's efforts to promote peer awareness of this alarming trend in several ways. Besides covering the cost of movie tickets for the students assessing tobacco content, Doctors Manitoba has lobbied film classification authorities in Manitoba to treat on-screen smoking the same way as offensive language. Any movie showing or implying tobacco use would be rated A18 (adult accompaniment if under 18).

More recently, there was good news about a successful SWAT team proposal, which Doctors Manitoba supported, for federal funding to expand its activities with the goal of recruiting more young anti-tobacco activists throughout the province.

"This is very exciting!" said Dr. Roger Suss, Public Health Issues Committee Chair, regarding MP Joy Smith's March 14 announcement of a $20,000 grant to assist the 40-member group. The money will go towards training students and teachers in other schools how to start their own SWAT programs.

As a humorous spoof on Hollywood's powers of influence, the Black Lung Awards pay tribute to the tragic role played by smoking movie stars in addicting their young fans to tobacco. This entertaining but sobering media event was first staged in 2005 by West Kildonan's SWAT Team (Students Working Against Tobacco).

A new component this year, in group discussion/trivia quiz format, challenged the pre-teen audience to recognize the sometimes subtle forms of manipulation employed by the tobacco industry in exposing them to smoking stimuli in movies. Facilitators included a SWAT team double for Captain Jack Sparrow.

Teens deglamorize smoking film stars

December 2007

Adapted from the Doctors Manitoba newsletter, Rounds
Doctors Manitoba and members of the Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) Team were represented at the 5th National Conference on Health or Tobacco in Edmonton in October. Nykola Dubenski attended in her capacity as Communications Consultant to the Public Health Issues Committee (PHIC).
For the past several years, PHIC has mentored the SWAT team and supported its research on smoking in the movies. Through peer-oriented special events, the group of teen activists at West Kildonan Collegiate draws media attention to the dangers of tobacco use and film industry tactics targetting young audiences. Their goal is to spread the word that youth will not tolerate tobacco industry deception.
Delegates at the 5th National Conference on Tobacco or Health included (from left) Nykola Dubenski, Communications Consultant to the Doctors Manitoba Public Health Issues Committee; Jo-Anne Douglas, Manitoba Lung Association, Westman Region; a group of youth tobacco control activists from West Kildonan Collegiate; and Barb Tascona, West Kildonan Collegiate teacher and project leader.
Movies a sinister force in recruiting new young smokers

The 5th National Conference on Tobacco or Health

Early October of 2007, the students of the West Kildonan Collegiate SWAT team traveled to Edmonton, Alberta to present and share the SWAT team’s mandate and successes over the years of presenting to local schools and schools within the province of Manitoba at the 5th National Conference of Tobacco and Health.

The WKC SWAT team is a student led program that provides interactive workshops demonstrating the health risks associated with tobacco. The team provides annual “Train the Trainer” programs to train new members and assist new schools entering the program. In addition, they sponsor the Black and Pink Lung Awards which are a spoof on Hollywood’s Academy Awards. These awards are intended to de-glamorize smoking and reveal the reality of smoking.

The Guardian Angels 2007 Youth Awareness Forum

A key component of the Guardian Angels mission is the education of Manitoba youth. Since 2003 they have organized in-school presentations by breast cancer survivors and sessions on breast cancer research, sun awareness and skin cancer, and fitness.

This year they are delighted to join forces with West Kildonan Collegiate in presenting their groundbreaking presentation, Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT), a unique in-class workshop created and presented by students, for students. SWAT provides students with hands-on activities designed to encourage them not to start smoking.

The Guardian Angels are sponsoring presentations in 11 schools as well as a 2-day SWAT Leadership Camp, where selected students will be given the tools to start a SWAT team in their own schools.

"We know that tobacco use is the single most important cause of preventable cancer deaths," says Johanna Steinfeld, Chair of the Guardian Angels Youth Awareness Form. "The work these students are doing towards tobacco prevention is remarkable, and we are thrilled and proud to sponsor their unique presentation."

Article from the October edition of Voices of Hope.