Despite decades and billions of dollars in medical and statistical research, commercial and grassroots marketing campaigns, government regulation of access and use – and, admittedly, some measure of success in changing consumer behaviors and opinions – tobacco use persists.
Perhaps it is the range of products, including pleasant fruity aromas and flavors. Maybe it is the introduction or popularization of “alternative” methods like hookah pipes or chewing tobacco. It could be the growing public opinion that vaping with e-cigarettes is safer than smoking traditional cigarettes. Whatever the reason, adolescents and young adults are picking up the addictive nicotine habit. Among teens and young adults who identify themselves as LGBTQ, the likelihood of tobacco use is an alarming 300 times higher than teens who identify themselves as heterosexual.
These trends raise questions that Community Conversation: Teens and Tobacco Use will explore this fall. By listening to local teens and young adults describe their initiation and experiences with tobacco products, Rhode Island PBS will produce a program shaped by the stories told in the youths’ own words. Blending one-on-one interviews with roundtable discussions, including interviews with adult health and education professionals, the stories will be woven into a 30-40 minute program to be broadcast on Rhode Island PBS, and distributed on DVD to Rhode Island middle and high schools.
With no coaching or counseling, no lectures or judgment, Rhode Island PBS seeks young people, ages 14 to 20 (up to age 23), from all different backgrounds: race, sexual orientation, religion, culture, family environment, financial status, etc. who are willing to share their stories and experiences with tobacco use. Rhode Island PBS is also interested in hearing stories of youths who have committed not to use tobacco products. Rhode Island PBS will be collecting stories over the summer, beginning with a soft recruitment outreach promotion to LGBTQ youth at Rhode Island’s PrideFest on Saturday, June 17.
Please note: all participants must sign a release form (attached below) authorizing Rhode Island PBS to record their image and voice, and use their story and likeness on television and in the program DVD or other format. Participants under the age of 18 must have parental consent to be included in the production.
Potential participants who want more information before making a decision should contact the show’s producer, Kim Keough, at 401-222-3636 x226 or by email at production @ ripbs.org.
Community Conversations: Teens and Tobacco Use is made possible in part by CVS Health.