VCU Student Wins National Video Contest
Senior Ayyaz Amjad takes Grand Prize for his Video about Tobacco Use Dangers
Cassie Williams Jones
University Public Affairs
Virginia Commonwealth University student Ayyaz Amjad has won a national contest for creating a video conveying the dangers of tobacco use.
The "Tobacco - I'm Not Buying It" video contest was launched in March by U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin when her office released the first comprehensive look at youth tobacco use in nearly two decades.
Amjad, a senior kinetic imaging major from Woodbridge, won the $1,000 grand prize in the 18-25 age category for his video, "You Don't Smoke Cigarettes, Cigarettes Smoke You." The short video, less than two-minutes, was filmed around Richmond.
His video addresses the negative health consequences of smoking, including heart disease and asthma, and poses the question: “Are cigarettes smoking us?”
"I have friends that smoke, and I really made the video to reach them and the rest of the community by taking a creative approach to the issue,” said Amjad. “Many of my friends responded and said the video had made an impact on their lives, and made them think twice about smoking. A few of them have actually quit smoking.”
In conjunction with the Surgeon General’s report released earlier this year, “Preventing Tobacco Use among Youth and Young Adults,” youth aged 13-17 and young adults aged 18-25 were invited to develop original videos that feature one or more of these findings from the report:
- Cigarette smoking by youth and young adults immediately begins a sequence of health consequences including addiction, reduced lung function, asthma and heart disease.
- Advertising and promotional activities by tobacco companies have been shown to cause the onset and continuation of smoking among adolescents and young adults.
- Use of tobacco products by youth and young adults shows signs of increasing after years of steady decline.
Officials announced the winners of the contest late Wednesday. In addition to Amjad’s category, there was a 13-17 age category, as well as a Spanish-language category.
A panel of judges chose the winners from the group of publicly selected finalists.
“It's really given me a great opportunity for more exposure,” said Amjad. “Because of the CDC’s [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] and the Surgeon General’s help, I’ve been able to get the message across to a wider audience."
The announcement coincides with events surrounding the World Health Organization's World No Tobacco Day yesterday in which public health authorities highlighted tobacco-related issues.