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"Break It Off" Campaign Comes to New Brunswick! Students Embrace Newfound Savings By Dumping their Cigarettes.

By Nathalie Landry - NBATC Communications Coordinator

What do you get when you mix a few young, outgoing and high energy smoking cessation ambassadors on a cross-Canada tour with an eye-catching truck from which young people can tell the world, via the power of social media, what they will do with the money they save by not smoking?

You get Canada’s Biggest Break Up Tour, an innovative and highly engaging campaign led by Health Canada aimed at getting young people to Break It Off with their cigarettes or, for non-smokers, commit to remaining smoke-free.

“Breaking up is never easy, but don't worry, you're not alone!” states the Break It Off Campaign on its website.  “Visit the break-up truck to dump smoking once and for all and become one of the many faces of our campaign. All you have to do is board the truck and tell us how you plan to celebrate your healthier smoke-free lifestyle and what you'll be spending your newfound savings on.”

The Break It Off gang was in New Brunswick in April 2015, stopping by the campuses of the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton, Eastern College in Saint John and the Université de Moncton in Moncton. Break It Off ambassadors Joey Provost, Émilie Ceccato, Eve Dubuc, and Firdaous El Mergaoui were on hand to invite passersby into their interactive, social-media-savvy break-up truck to think about the benefits of being tobacco-free. Participants took turns getting their picture taken with a sign representing their promise to quit smoking - or remain tobacco-free – and sharing what they would like to do with all the money they will save or are currently saving by not buying tobacco products.

“We met over 4,165 people in New Brunswick and we had about 500 get their picture taken for our Break It Off video,” says team member Joey Provost. “On average, not smoking saves you $2,000/per year. Asking the students to identify what they would spend this money on drives the anti-smoking message home in a tangible way.” 

Once a participant gets his/her picture taken, it gets loaded and added to the campaign video. Each participant receives an email with a link to the Break It Off website so that they can follow up if they would like additional resources. “We have information on resources available with us in the truck to give to smokers who would like some advice to quit or reduce their tobacco use,” adds Provost. One of these is an interactive Break It Off mobile app that can be downloaded from the Break It Off website at breakitoff.ca. This is a fun and engaging tool for the road towards a healthier, smoke-free life.

Students come up with some pretty clever ways to spend the money from not smoking. “Travel has been the number one answer,” says Provost. “I can relate, that is my goal as well. Many also write down things like ‘pay down my student loan’, ‘buy a car’ or ‘put a down payment on a house’. We’ve had many say that they would do a donation to their favourite charity, which I find very inspiring.”

Photos of the students across Canada showing how they would happily spend the money saved from being smoke-free is shared via the Break It Off campaigns’ website and social media channels. 

“Everywhere we go with the truck, we attract a lot of curiosity,” says Provost. “We get a lot of comments from people saying what a great idea this is. Many share that they are looking to quit smoking, so they are glad to have an opportunity to reach out to us. It’s also really encouraging to see that most students are already tobacco-free. For these students, this campaign shows them that they have made the right choice and encourages them to stick with that choice.”

“I’ve never smoked and I think this campaign is a great idea,” echoes Ryan Caissie, who studies at the Université de Moncton. “The cost of cigarettes keeps going up, so it was a fun eye-opener for me to see that my healthy lifestyle choice is also saving me a lot of money every year. I wrote down that I could do a cross Canada trip – which I have been meaning to do - this summer with that $2,000. I might just go out and do it!”

“I’m allergic to cigarette smoke, so it’s really nice to see so many people on my campus commit to being smoke-free,” adds international student Sanni Taffa Waliou who immigrated to Canada and is currently pursuing his MBA at the Université de Moncton. “The Break It Off truck really draws your attention. For me, not smoking is an easy choice. I’m very health conscious, so the money I’m saving by not smoking, I use at the grocery store to buy healthy food.” 

“We need more of this kind of messaging out there,” states Amélie LeBlanc, a professor at the Université de Moncton campus who stopped by the truck, clearly impressed with its message. “I’m in my thirties and I wish there had been more of this kind of information when I was younger. Asking people to think about the fun things they can do by not smoking is a powerful motivator. I’ve never smoked, and I’m glad. It’s a lot of wasted money that can be used elsewhere to live a better life.”

Missed the truck? Don't worry, you can visit www.breakitoff.ca.

Photos courtesy of the Break It Off campaign. 

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