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Truth goes #Squadless to stop teen smoking

#Squadless

Truth Initiative is pulling out a new hashtag in time for the MTV VMAs to let kids know that smoking can seriously harm their spending cash, leading to less time with their friends.

Truth, the largest non-profit public health organization dedicated to eradicating smoking, has teamed up with its two agencies of record, 72andSunny and Assembly, to promote #Squadless, a video starring Vine star George Janko and YouTube star Macy Kate.

The video, which will debut on the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday, highlights the “smokers wage gap,” which says that smokers earn 20 per cent less than non-smokers, and young adults miss out on up to $10,000 each year, according to the US Department of Labor and a paper by the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, respectively.

The idea of #Squadless is to humorously highlight the fact that teens who smoke don’t have the cash to hang with their friends, or squad, so instead of going to the movies, hanging out and going to concerts, they’re stuck at home with grandpa, or photoshopping their heads onto bears, or getting stung by swarms of bees.

While many teens know smoking is bad for their own health and those around them, thanks in large part to truth, most don’t know that it also hurts their wallet. According to a survey from Truth Initiative, 88 per cent of young adults aged 15-25 years did not know smokers earn 20 per cent less than non-smokers.

The #Squadless video shows how smoking leads to less financial stability, and it highlights major concerns by teens that should get them thinking about putting down tobacco forever.

The three biggest complaints about teens’ daily lives are school (35 per cent), followed by not having enough money (31 per cent), and not having enough time (27 per cent), according to The Futures Company’s 2016 Tru Youth Monitor.

Teens are concerned about the financial stability of their future. In a survey conducted by Northeastern University, 67 per cent of the respondents, ages of 16 and 19, said that they were concerned about “being able to afford college.”

Independence has always been a natural part of the teen life stage. Generation Z are embracing independence earlier and with a more self-directed approach than previous generations, according to the 2016 Tru Youth Monitor.

“For today’s youth, less income means missing out on things they care about,” said Robin Koval, CEO and president of Truth Initiative, the national public health organization that directs and funds the truth campaign. “Teens are deeply concerned with preparing for their futures and while they know tobacco is expensive, they often don’t realize just how much it’s costing them now and in the future. The tobacco industry is taking money out of both their front and back pockets. By highlighting the disparity in earning potential between smokers and non-smokers, an inequity that teens can control, we are giving them yet another reason to end smoking for good.”

One in three youth smokers will eventually die from tobacco-related diseases. With almost 82 per cent of adult smokers starting smoking by the age of 18 and 99 per cent starting by the age of 26, truth sees the importance of finding new ways to engage teens in conversation about the topic.

##Squadless is the latest extension of the truth Finish It campaign and aims to empower smokers and nonsmokers alike to make this the generation that ends tobacco use for good. Teen cigarette smoking rates are down to a historic low of 7 per cent, compared to 23 per cent in 2000.

The Finish It campaign and ##Squadless video were created by 72andSunny, while media planning and buying was handled by Assembly.

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Kyle O'Brien

I am a reporter for The Drum covering a wide array of topics but always trying to tell the best stories possible. I am a former west coaster from California and Portland, Oregon, now living in Pennsylvania — with time spent in NYC each week.

I also play saxophone professionally.

All by Kyle