August 13, 2009 - [Thunder Bay] - To celebrate their last event in Thunder Bay, YETI (Youth Engaged in Tobacco-free Initiatives) hosted a free soccer-baseball game for youth to promote healthy lifestyles free of tobacco industry products. Since funding to the Youth Action Alliances program has been discontinued, this was also the last public appearance of “Big Tobacco”, the nine-foot tall tobacco executive puppet.
“It’s important for youth to have safe and healthy environments to enjoy sport and recreation activities”, reported Sarah Covino, YETI spokesperson. “This helps prevent youth from being exposed to these products and from being targeted with tobacco industry marketing efforts.”
Recently, YETI has been focusing on increasing the number of sport and recreation groups that will adopt tobacco-free policies for their organizations. Creating tobacco-free sport and recreation events means that athletes, coaches, and spectators refrain from using any form of tobacco product while participating in the activity and representing their organization.
“At 13,000 deaths every year and approximately 37 deaths per day, tobacco use continues to be the major cause of preventable disease and death in Ontario,” said Dakota Warkentin, another YETI spokesperson. “This event is an ideal opportunity for YETI to raise awareness about the harmful effects of tobacco use on one’s health and athletic performance.”
YETI will officially disband on August 28, 2009. The Ministry of Health Promotion intends to roll out a new youth engagement strategy in 2010.