If you tuned into the Grammy’s tonight you probably noticed a powerful new ad campaign by Truth, an anti-tobacco youth organization. When Truth started their organization to take on the big tobacco industry in 2000, 23% of teens were avid smokers and now, in 2017 that number is down to 6%. The work they are doing is having a huge impact on the health of our youth.
Truth’s CEO and President Robin Koval believes that if we empower the youth with the facts, they will bring change to their communities. GO sat down with Koval to learn more about what we all can do to take a stand against big tobacco profiling.
GO Magazine: How is Truth working to shine a light on big tobacco’s profiling tactics in targeting some of our most vulnerable communities?
Robin Koval: What we’re always trying to do in our campaign under the Finish It umbrella is to get young people involved in a movement to put an end to tobacco. What we’ve learned is that for most young people, since most of them don’t smoke, it’s not a top of mind topic. We’re trying to find ways to show how tobacco impacts your life and why you should care about that. Some of our other campaigns have taken a more light-hearted approach. This is an opportunity to further the conversation and we know now is a time when lots of people are concerned about social justice issues. The truth is, like many issues in America, who you are, where you live, and the amount of privilege you have tends to be the determinant of whether you end up being smoker or not. That’s not an accident, it’s because the tobacco industry is profiling communities. There are many big problems we need to solve, and this is one we can put an end to but we can’t leave anyone behind.
GO: How does Truth actively work to involve young people?
RK: There’s a call to action in our Grammy’s ad with the hashtag #StopProfiling. Also, we encourage people to enlist at TheTruth.com where we give people many opportunities to get involved. We’re always looking for different ways for folks to involved as an activist against big tobacco.
GO: Can you explain why you chose to partner with Amanda Seales for this particular campaign?
RK: We really wanted to find someone who could be an authentic, compassionate and true spokesperson for us. Of course, there were a lot of names but when we met her we just loved her for all her passion and genuine spirit. She’s a comedian, actress, and activist who speaks out on issues she cares about.
RK: I think it really takes bringing Tobacco into the conversation about health and wellness. Tobacco affects everything about your health and the LGBTQ community has been so good on health issues, this just seems like a topic that needs to be included. The LGBTQ community is also so good at calling out injustices when they happen and rallying behind what needs change.
GO: How does Truth ensure that these campaigns to empower people to take a stand reach the communities most affected?
RK: We’ve always been big believers in young people. When you empower them with the facts, it can be an incredible force not only in informing themselves but spreading the message to others. We want what we do to resonate with young people. When you look the other way you’re helping the industry to do their work—we have to get involved in our family and friends lives to empower them to no longer smoke.
To check out what Truth is about, go to their website.