Thousands of UAAP fans are clamoring for their favorite college athletes– ADMU’s Kiefer Ravena and Alyssa Valdez, DLSU’s Jeron Teng, UST’s EJ Laure, FEU’s Mac Belo, NU’s Gelo Alolino, UP’s Diego Dario, and more, to join the “YOLO Video Challenge”, a campaign against youth smoking.
Youth advocates are confident that University Athletics Association of the Philippines (UAAP) athletes are in the best position to influence their peers that being cool, adventurous, and making the most out of teenage life does not involve lighting up a cigarette. As the campaign goes, YOLO– you only live once, so why smoke and cut your life short? Loving life is staying smoke free.
The online petition, in partnership with Change.org, challenges UAAP athletes to shoot videos of themselves calling on their peers to stand up against smoking. To date, there are over 4,000 signatures in the petition that started just over a week ago. Sign the petition here: change.org/timesuptobacco.
UAAP athletes may post their “YOLO” videos through their social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram) using the hashtags #YOLOSmokeFree or #TimesUpTobacco .
The petition was launched under the “Time’s Up, Tobacco!” movement led by public-health advocacy group HealthJustice that aims to expose the dirty tactics of tobacco companies.
Twenty-one-year old Arvin Maceda of the University of the Philippines Manila and other youth advocates authored the petition following studies that a staggering 90% of adult smokers today started smoking as teens or younger. According to a school-based Global Youth Tobacco Survey, about 13.7% of Filipino teens aged 13-15 years old are already smoking cigarettes. Not to mention that 10 Filipinos die every hour due to tobacco-related diseases.
“No wonder the tobacco companies’ sneaky advertisements and marketing tactics are now aimed at us, the youth. As a student, I know for a fact that these ads are sometimes placed adjacent to schools and universities. It is as if tobacco companies are forcefully enticing the young to start smoking,” shares Arvin
Volumes of internal tobacco industry documents and research show that tobacco companies intentionally target children as young as 13 with its advertising and marketing tactics, because once hooked they could be steady customers for years.
An outpour from fans
Since the petition went online on September 24, hundreds of youth have been signing each day and leaving their appeals to UAAP athletes at the Change.org site. There are now more than 4,000 signatures and hundreds of comments from supporters.
“I have children, too. I want these athletes to be [their] role model. You can be cool by playing sports. As what everyone says ‘YOLO’. Love your life and treasure it. You can never go back once you lose it,” posted Marielle Laus of Las Pinas.
“I think athletes are in the perfect position to set a good example to the youth. I can’t wait for the Ateneo basketball team to post their video… ONE BIG FIGHT!” posted Arveen Agunday of Quezon City.
“Sana makita ng mga UAAP varsity teams at athletes na ang pag-gawa nila ng video ay malaking tulong sa aming mga kabataang umaasa na balang araw ay wala nang kabataang tatangkilik sa sigarilyo na yan,” posted Javerlyn Jane Tamala of Siquijor.
“Athletes should be role models of self- discipline and healthy habits. I am sure if UAAP teams can unite to stand up against tobacco companies they will have strong effects on our teenagers who look up to them,” posted by Charmaine Luntok of Manila.
“I can’t wait for [Alyssa] Valdez, [Kiefer] Ravena, and [Mika] Reyes to post their videos. Kindly encourage the youth to have a healthy lifestyle, rather than try the risk of smoking,” posted Teena Contreras of Laguna.
UAAP stars at the forefront
With popular UAAP athletes at the forefront of the campaign against smoking, health advocates are confident that they will be able to more effectively communicate the dangers of smoking to the youth and stop them from acquiring the habit. Arvin and his team of health advocates are hopeful that this petition will reach the attention of these role models immediately.
“UAAP athletes are in the best position to advocate for this cause. We are hoping that they will rise to the challenge,” shares Arvin.
This petition is launched under a movement led by public-health advocacy group HealthJustice called “Time’s Up, Tobacco!” meant to make tobacco companies accountable for the harms that their products cause and expose the dirty tactics of tobacco companies meddling against tobacco-control measures meant to protect public health. To know more about HealthJustice and the “Time’s Up, Tobacco” movement visit www.healthjustice.ph or visit facebook.com/timesuptobacco.