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Sex, death and rock & roll – teen movie makers help create cutting edge anti-smoking films

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by Cancer Research UK | News

10 July 2008

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Three hard hitting films – designed by teenagers for teenagers – were launched today after a national competition helped uncover the next generation of British film makers.

Cancer Research UK and Channel 4’s 4Talent launched a joint initiative – funded by the Department of Health – called BREATHE to produce a selection of short online films to encourage young smokers to quit and deter others from starting.

The three winning films show a young girl coughing up a lung after a night of partying, a girl who turns into a wrinkled, unattractive old woman during a wild house party and a young man who pays to die in a slaughter house.

Teenagers interested in movie making were asked to enter their ideas about smoking to create a high impact film no longer than 91 seconds that would make other young people sit up and take notice.

The top 10 were short listed from over 1500 entries. After a two day workshop involving an industry master class, the ideas were developed into fully formed movie proposals. After being tested in focus groups a panel of leading tobacco researchers and film making experts then chose the winners.

The three winning films can be viewed by visiting

James Estill, senior producer for Channel 4’s 4Talent said: “To create messages on this notoriously difficult subject, which young people can relate to, was never going to be an easy task, but once again, the creativity demonstrated by the winners has produced a fantastic and diverse range of films.”

DJ Spoony, who has been involved in promoting the competition, said: “The winning films are brilliant. They’re hard hitting, with clear messages that are delivered in a way that is popular with young people. The wealth of new ideas that has been unleashed really shows how creative and talented our teenagers are. It’s great that this competition is allowing teenagers to communicate with each other about the dangers of smoking.”

Tobacco kills one in two of all long term users and still causes over one in four of all cancer deaths in the UK. Themes of the films include the harmful effects to health from cigarettes along with the cynical attitude of the tobacco industry toward the lives of its customers.

Jean King, Cancer Research UK’s director of tobacco control, said: “It’s important that we involve teenagers in developing a relevant anti smoking campaign for a teenage audience. Around two thirds of smokers start before they turn 18 and it’s vital we work to reduce this figure. The earlier someone starts to smoke, the more difficult it is for them to quit. We’ve been thrilled that so many teenagers entered the competition and the winning films are some of the most powerful I’ve seen from this age group aimed at their peers. We now hope that the films are seen by as many teens as possible and the messages get through of just how harmful cigarettes are.”

The launch of the films coincides with the Government’s public consultation on the future of tobacco control. Cancer Research UK believes that only through the strong commitment to a range of activities and policies can we help reduce the devastating impact that tobacco has on the lives of many millions of people.


For media enquiries please contact the Cancer Research UK press office on 020 7061 8300, or the out of hours’ duty press officer on 07050 264059.