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Virginia North LE - Student wins anti-tobacco video contest

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
May 31st, 2012
Catholic Online (

A Virginia Commonwealth University student, who produced a video about the dangers of smoking, has won a national contest that was sponsored by the U.S. surgeon general's office.

RICHMOND, VA (Catholic Online) - Ayyaz Amjad, of Woodbridge, won the $1,000 grand prize in the 18-25 category for his video, "You Don't Smoke Cigarettes, Cigarettes Smoke You." The video features facts and risks about smoking, as well as featuring an animated, robotic cigarette taking people out of a cigarette pack and smoking them.

On Wednesday, officials announced the winners of the "Tobacco - I'm Not Buying It" video contest. Amjad said it took about two weeks to complete the video, and another two weeks to spread the word about voting for the contest.

"I really made the video to reach my friends and the community," said Amjad. "There aren't any health benefits to smoking, mostly consequences. That's really where I got the idea."

Many of his peers told him that his video made a "huge impact on their lives and makes them think twice about smoking." A number of them actually quit completely, saying they "don't want a giant robot cigarette smoking them."

In the 13-17 age group, the grand prize winner was Dantreal Waiters and the Manatee Youth for Christ SOZO team, from Bradenton, Florida. Their video consisted of them rapping about the dangers of tobacco and why they are not buying it.

In March, Surgeon General Regina Benjamin's office released the first look at tobacco use in today's youth in nearly two decades which prompted the contest. Almost one in five high school teens smokes, with more than 80 percent of smokers beginning by age 18 and 99 percent of adult smokers starting by the age of 26.

It is important to stop young adults from using tobacco due to the high chance of long-term addiction. Reduced lung function, impaired lung growth, early heart problems, and asthma can quickly occur when one smokes.

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