Creative Saskatchewan youth have a lot to say about tobacco

31 May 2011

Regina -

From poetry to rap, animation to testimonials, young people in this province have strong feelings about tobacco. Today, on World No Tobacco Day , the Canadian Cancer Society announced the winners of its first Let’s Talk Tobacco video contest. The online contest encouraged youth to share their thoughts about tobacco by submitting a one minute video.

"I was astounded by the amount of thought and energy that went in to some of these videos. One of the kids spent 17 hours on his. This project really confirmed that young people care about this issue and if we give them a platform, they will speak out," said Donna Pasiechnik, Manager of Tobacco Control for the Canadian Cancer Society in Saskatchewan.

Cassandra Grisdale’s video, Choices was about her struggle with Cystic Fibrosis. "My message was simply to tell smokers that they were given the gift of choice. I was not. Sometimes seeing things from someone else’s perspective is enough to get them to make the right decision and realize the power of their choice," said the 18 year old Melfort student.

Smoking Kills, an incredible claymation was the winner of the 15-17 year old category and the brainchild of Spencer Gordon-Dirks from Saskatoon. "I thought the contest was a good opportunity for young film makers to show off their skills and possibly get some recognition," said Gordon-Dirks. His motivation came from a history of cancer in his family.

The Tobacco Zone, a hip-hop video produced by Sean den Hollander and Braedyn Hamre Wyka, took first place in the 12-14 year old category. "I think it was a good way to tell strangers and even family members that it’s wrong to smoke. I’d already decided I was never going to smoke, but these videos impacted me even more," says den Hollander.

The on-line contest was open to Saskatchewan residents between the ages of 12 and 24. After receiving dozens of entries, a panel of judges selected 10 finalists in each age category. The public determined the winners by voting for their favourite video on Facebook. "We’re hoping this contest is the first step to start a conversation with the group that will influence the smoking rates of the future," added Pasiechnik.

Saskatchewan has the highest teen smoking rate in Canada. 18% of 15-19 year olds smoke compared to the national average which is 13%. To see all the winners and finalists visit or go to

The Canadian Cancer Society is a national community-based organization of volunteers whose mission is the eradication of cancer and the enhancement of the quality of life of people living with cancer. When you want to know more about cancer, visit our website or call our toll-free, bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1 888 939-3333.

For more information, please contact:

Donna Pasiechnik

Manager, Tobacco Control, Media & Government Relations

Canadian Cancer Society

Saskatchewan Division

Phone: 306-790-9871