(Salt Lake City) – Anti-tobacco youth groups from across the Wasatch Front have created an art exhibit to memorialize family members and celebrities who won’t be at Thanksgiving dinner this year. Every year, tobacco products kill 1,200 Utahns in ways that are not quick, painless, or glamorous. The exhibit’s focal point is a Thanksgiving table installation and death masks to illustrate the toll of tobacco in Utah.
The exhibit, Look Who’s Not Coming to Dinner, runs through Saturday, November 26 at the Gray Wall Gallery, 351 West Pierpont Ave. Suite 2B, Salt Lake City. The young artists will be on hand to discuss the project during a reception Saturday from 4 to 6 p.m.
Members of the youth groups crafted death masks -- the centuries-old, multicultural symbol of death -- to represent those who have died from tobacco addiction. The artists include representatives from the Utah Department of Health’s One Good Reason, Salt Lake Valley Health Department’s Teen Advocates Against Tobacco, Utah County Health Department’s Outrage, and the Utah Pride Center.
“Moms and dads, sisters and brothers, aunts and uncles, and even grandparents have lost their lives due to tobacco addiction,” says Kelcie Langston, One Good Reason Board Member. “We believe we have a responsibility to inform and educate all Utahns about the health risks that Big Tobacco covers up.”
One artist is working to raise awareness about Project SCUM (Sub-Culture Urban Marketing), a marketing tactic Big Tobacco implemented in Castro, a gay neighborhood of San Francisco, in the mid-1990s to gain market share among gay and lesbian youth. It worked too well, as today nearly 60 percent of gay, lesbian, or bisexual teens in the U.S. say they use tobacco and more than 30,000 gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people die each year due to tobacco use.
“Our installation expresses our feelings about Project SCUM,” says Gabe Stefanson, One Good Reason Board member. “When we buy their product, we are paying the tobacco industry to call us scum. They don’t care that what they are selling is deadly.”
“It’s important that over the holidays we remember those who have lost their lives, as well as those who are suffering because of the tobacco industry,” continues Langston. “We hope our art show will help people realize Big Tobacco is taking advantage of them. We want to help people take steps toward quitting so that next Thanksgiving, and for many years to come, they are able to spend the holidays with their loved ones.”
Tobacco use is the single greatest cause of preventable death in Utah, claiming more lives than car crashes, murder, suicide, AIDS, alcohol, drug abuse, and fires combined. For more information, or help quitting, visit http://www.onegoodreason.net/ or http://www.tobaccofreeutah.org/.
For more information, contact:
UDOH One Good Reason Coordinator
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