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Ten-year-old Draper resident Madi Michaels wants smokers to win their lives back. At least that's what her radio commercial will tell Utahns next month.
Michaels, along with more than 7,000 other fifth-graders from Utah, entered a contest with the TRUTH Campaign, the national anti-tobacco organization. Michaels won the "Best of Show" and with it a real ad based on her submission.
The ad puts Michaels' sense of humor front and center said her father, Mike Michaels. All the while, her message remains: smoking can kill. A radio announcer starts the show off by getting ready for a big giveaway and her ad begins with a list of possible prizes. Is it concert tickets? A motorcycle? For smokers, the prize is their lives.
"I really like the ad she came up with," said Madi's father. "I hope they produce it well … it's not the typical anti-smoking ad you see these days. It's an effective ad."
Whether it was a billboard, a radio spot or a television commercial, 11 winners from across the state were rewarded for their ideas on how to help the TRUTH Campaign. The group of 10- and 11-year-old winners received cash prizes presented to them at their schools.
Michaels said the fact that her ad was being produced meant something more to her.
"Smoking is an awful, awful thing," she said. "It should have never been invented in the first place I think."
Two of her cousins quit smoking just a few months ago and her aunt still smokes. Michaels said she could see the toll of cigarettes on her family.
The TRUTH Campaign's ad contest is a way to reach children before they start smoking said Utah Department of Health Public Relations Coordinator David Neville. Neville said the contest is a great way to start the discussion with children about how dangerous smoking can be for their health.
Tobacco companies spend nearly $60 million annually in Utah seeking new business, according to the state health department. A portion of that money goes toward youth and young adults. Ninety percent of adult smokers who smoked cigarettes first began before the age of 19, the health department said.
Hayden Underwood, who attends Heartland Elementary School in West Jordan, took first place in the radio submission for his "Smoking is Bad" ad. He hasn't had the same experiences as Michaels when it comes to cigarettes, but that hasn't stopped him from taking a strong position against smoking. Underwood said he could never be a smoker.
"It's really harmful to your body," Underwood said. "Once you start its hard to stop."
The TRUTH Campaign partnered with the Utah Department of Health in 1991 when it first called on Utah's fourth- and fifth-graders to create ads telling the truth about tobacco to Utahns. Using the program as a launching pad to get students involved in the discussion and to live a healthy lifestyle, the ad contest has turned into a tradition.
TRUTH Campaign winners
Best of Show • "The Get-Your-Life-Back Radio Contest," Madi Michaels, Draper
First • "Savor Your Moment," Meigon Stuy, Lehi
Second • "Smokin' Grandpa," Mikyla May Bagley and Bryce Damon Christensen, Greenwich and Koosharem
Third • "The Workmen and the Cigarette," Katherine McKinney, West Jordan
First • "Smoking is Bad," Hayden Underwood, West Jordan
Second • "How Tobacco Can Affect Your Family," Rylee Bunten, South Jordan
Third • "The Friend That Helped," Kelly Faber, West Jordan
First • "Is Tobacco Your BFF?" Elizabeth "Libbie" Peck, Francis
Second • "Smokers Never Win," Angeleah Craner, Pleasant View
Third • "Quit Tobacco," Ethan Lindsey, Farr West