Pubdate: Fri, 22 Sep 2017
Source: Chronicle Herald (CN NS)
Copyright: 2017 The Halifax Herald Limited
Author: Aaron Beswick


Health Canada doesn't want kids smoking pot.

The federal agency responsible for the health of Canadians issued a
tender call Thursday for a marketing campaign to raise awareness among
youth aged 13 to 24 about the harmful affects of smoking marijuana on
their still-developing brains.

It also wants pre- and post-campaign monitoring of the awareness of
youth of the affects.

The advertising campaign will roll out in anticipation of Canada's
legalizing marijuana next year.

Ed McHugh, a professor at St. Mary's University's marketing
department, offered a warning.

"In the world of marketing and communications it is very difficult to
change human behaviour," said McHugh.

"We don't think it's going to happen to us. We think it's going to
happen to others."

And according to a 2013 United Nations Children's Fund study, Canadian
kids are already smoking pot.

It found 28 per cent of Canadian children between the ages of 11 and
15 had used marijuana at least once in the past year - more than in
either the United States or the Netherlands (where weed was already

But the case is not hopeless.

McHugh points to advertising campaigns by Labatt Beer to promote
responsible drinking some 20 years ago.

"They did these focus groups and what they heard back was, 'don't be
parental and try to use humour if you can,'" said McHugh.

The result was a televised advertising campaign that humorously showed
the potential shame a person could create for themselves during a
night of hard drinking.

Polling afterward showed the advertising had raised awareness, said

One thing that Health Canada does not state in its 45-page request for
proposals is a budget for this advertising campaign that would be
meant to reach youth across Canada. Health Canada was not able to
provide a budget for the campaign to The Chronicle Herald before
suppertime on Friday.

"You can't put together a proposal without knowing what the budget
is," said McHugh.

He added, however, that he does "applaud Health Canada for attempting
to get out ahead" of the legalization of marijuana with an educational

The deadline for proposals is Oct. 16.
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