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Art of Manipulation-Tobacco, Alcohol and Substance Abuse"




Everybody knows that tobacco use causes a variety of potentially deadly diseases. Smoking also causes the yellowing of teeth and bad breath, as well as lingering odors on clothing and in hair.

So why is it that ...

  • Nearly 50 million Americans smoke - including one in five teenagers
  • Each day more than 3,000 youth begin to smoke
  • 89% of adult smokers smoked their first cigarette before the age of 18

Published research studies by the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association and the Federal Center for Disease Control and Prevention have found that youth are three times more sensitive to tobacco advertising than adults and are more likely to be influenced to smoke by cigarette marketing than by peer pressure.

This project is designed to show youth how they are being manipulated through the power of art, design and advertising to purchase and use tobacco products.

For this project, Center for Folk and Community Art artists, Dena Stewart and Stewart Stewart, are facilitating their "Telling Stories Through Visuals" writing and art workshops with upper-elementary, middle and high school students. At these workshops, the youth are deconstructing tobacco ads; identifying how the use of tobacco products affects their lives; writing about personal experiences with, and feelings about, the use of tobacco products; illustrating their stories and incorporating their own anti-tobacco use message within the picture; and analyzing how artistic ad campaigns and celebrity spokespeople influence their thinking and actions.

The on-going and ever-growing Mural, a montage of the stories and artwork created at the workshops, is used as a tool of education to enlighten others about the health risks of tobacco use.

The "Art of Manipulation - Tobacco Awareness" Mural is making its debut at the Stephen P. Clark Government center in Miami, Florida on September 7-17, 1999. The Mural will continue its exhibition tour throughout the 1999-2000 year and beyond at appropriate anti-tobacco events, in libraries, museums, schools and other public venues. Workshops will also continue during this time, with the Mural (currently 42 feet) continuing to grow in size.

To bring this project to your community of for additional information, please contact us at

© 1999 Dena Stewart

At age thirteen, two friends and I
cut class and took a bus
to someone else's neighborhood,
where no one would know us.

We bought a pack of cigarettes,
thirty cents at that time;
There were no age restrictions then.
We each chipped in a dime.

The first puff didn't taste so good.
The second made us dizzy.
With twenty cigarettes to smoke,
our afternoon was busy.

The smoking made our throats sore.
We felt nauseous and turned pale.
But thinking we looked grown-up,
we learned how to inhale.

The U.S. Surgeon General said tobacco can cause stroke,
cancer, heart and lung disease;
These warnings seemed a joke.

Twenty-five years later,
I felt physically unfit.
My doctor said it's 'cause I smoke.
I vowed that I would quit.

I tried to stop, then soon discovered
that I was addicted.
But Big Tobacco said "no way."
The news was quite conflicted.

Nicotine, in large amounts,
was added to the leaf
to keep more people smoking.
A truth beyond belief.

Many lawsuits later
it was finally revealed
that Big Tobacco tampered,
but kept the facts concealed.

Their goal was to hook youngsters
to start smoking in their teens.
They lured the youth through ads
well placed on signs; in magazines.

Joe Camel and the Marlboro Man,
the epitome of "Cool"
were heroes to both young and old -
all taken for the "Fool."

3,000 youth begin to smoke, each day,
in spite of knowledge.
And smart adults keep smoking,
those with high degrees from College.

Cigarettes have poisons
that cause illness and cruel death;
and even on a lighter note,
they stain teeth and cause bad breath.

That smoking causes impotence
doesn't lessen the allure.
So what will stop Tobacco
from winning in this war?


"My family and all my friends realize that they shouldn't smoke, especially my friends. I never see my family or my friends smoke, and I don't know if they do. Maybe they hide and smoke. I tell myself that it's none of my business. I see a lot of people smoking, especially older people. These people who smoke know that it can affect them. It makes me feel sick when people smoke near me. I have to turn and walk away while they are talking, if they are smoking."

Evens P., age 18


"My friend started to smoke at age 9, and then he stopped and started again at age 14. He started to smoke to get attention, but he also became addicted to smoking. This affected me because I wanted to be part of his little group, but I had to be brave. I was thinking about starting to smoke but I realized that it wasn't worth it because it can damage my health. There are other ways to get attention."

Anthony, age 15


"I experimented with all kinds of drugs, then my friends offered me a cigarette. I knew it was bad, but then again, what isn't? So me, the "bad ass" smoked my first cigarette! I did not like the taste, but it amplified the feeling of the drugs I was doing. But now that I quit all the drugs I used to do, I still smoke cigarettes - because they are easy to get, they are not illegal, and I can't stop."

Justin, age 19


"I have never smoked in my life. When I was a little kid, my father smoked cigarettes. My mom has never smoked. She always told me that smoking was bad for me, if I ever did it. My father stopped smoking because he started to find that it was bad for him. After he stopped smoking, he's been saying to me that smoking is bad. I believe him because he's had experience with it. Some of my friends smoke but I don't get the temptation. Also, my grandfather died of lung cancer and that's another reason why I don't and never will smoke."

Jose D., age 17




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