The nation’s largest youth smoking prevention campaign, truth, came to the University of Central Florida for the first time Friday, October 11, 2013. The truthLIVE team has been traveling the country all summer with a crew of enthusiastic “tour riders” who entertain and educate young people about the “truths” of tobacco companies and smoking. The truthLIVE five-college campus music tour was their final outreach effort this year, with UCF as their final stop. Free to students with a UCF ID, Campus Activities Board and truthLIVE teamed up to bring a concert with international icon OneRepublic and alternative pop band TeamMate at the CFE Arena in an effort to create awareness of the dangers of tobacco usage.
The truth campaign was launched in 2000 by Legacy, a national public health foundation that helps prevent youth from smoking and helps all smokers quit. The campaign exposes the tactics of the tobacco industry, the truth about addiction, and the health effects and social costs of smoking. According to the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, the truth campaign was directly responsible for keeping 450,000 teens from starting to smoke during its first four years (2000-2004).
While I was thrilled to have the opportunity for a sit down interview with TeamMate and meet-and-greets with OneRepublic for my news coverage, my journalistic focus was still on the passionate crew and bigger message of the campaign. In addition to the evening concert, truthLIVE “activated” on campus throughout the day with a mobile dance party and free gear giveaways, featuring gear with tobacco-related facts printed. The orange “truth truck” opened up with a DJ booth, dance floor and lounge area. The “truth zone” offered non-preachy activities. 14.3 percent of youth in Florida smoke, and I love that young people are making a difference to help save lives.