The youth is a very instrumental segment of the population when it comes to raising awareness on the dangers of smoking and vaping. As such, Interior Health has launched a poster contest to engage the youth in a meaningful discussion about the topic. 

‘Take a Breath: Teen Voices on Tobacco & Vaping‘ is a contest that invites youth living in the Interior Region to create engaging posters to tackle the subject of smoking and vaping.

“The intention is to recruit and share messages that are made by youth for youth,” said Interior Health in a recent press release.

Findings from the B.C. Adolescent Health Survey suggests that youth from rural and remote areas are just as likely to smoke and more likely to vape (33% vs 27%) than youth from urban areas. 

“Smoking and vaping are lifelong behaviours,” said Anita Ely, interim team leader of the Tobacco and Vapour Reduction Team.  

“If a person starts avoiding smoking at a young age then the bad habit will not carryover to adulthood and the rest of their life.” 

In ‘Take a Breath’, teens enrolled in grades 8 to 12 are invited to submit an original artwork in the form of a poster in one of five themes: 

  • The importance of ceremonial tobacco for Indigenous traditions, and how it differs from everyday (commercial) tobacco use
  • Important facts about smoking/tobacco and vaping products
  • Tobacco and vaping companies’ strategies to promote use
  • Impact of smoking/tobacco and vaping on my life
  • Environmental impact of smoking/tobacco and vaping

Take A Breath. Photo/Interior Health

“We figured that poster making will be a great way for the youth to creatively express themselves with this project,” said Ely. “We’re interested in coming to students without all the answers. We want to speak to them like they are adults and listen to what they have to say; what are their experiences and how can we learn from what they are saying? We believe this is the most meaningful way to have conversations with the youth.” 

 The contest was developed by the Tobacco and Vapour Reduction Team at IH to be a fresh, innovative approach for engaging with youth in meaningful conversations about tobacco use and vaping and how it affects them and their friends, family, school, community and environment. 

“This is the first time we’re doing this poster contest for teens,” said Ely. “It’s new, it’s innovative, and we’re just on the edge of our seats, hoping that this becomes very successful so we can do it again next year.” 

The team worked in collaboration with teens from the McCreary Centre Society, who will also serve as judges in selecting the winners for the contest. Different from many other campaigns that focus exclusively on the health concerns of using these products, this contest asks youths to share their perspective on the issue.

Teens who want to participate have until Nov. 15 to submit their entries. There will be five $150 gift cards awarded to the winners, one for each category. The artwork and messages of the winning posters will be celebrated and recognized by being professionally printed and posted in schools and communities across the IH region.

 More information on how to enter the contest can be found at