HELENA – A new contest for middle school and high school students aims to discourage tobacco use among teens.

Lewis and Clark Public Health announced the contest Tuesday. Public Health is asking students in Lewis and Clark, Jefferson and Broadwater County to submit artwork that “empower[s] youth to resist the marketing strategies of big tobacco companies.”

There are few other requirements, other than the artwork must be original (not computer generated) and presented on one 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper in landscape.

According to Public Health Tobacco Prevention Health Educator Sarah Shapiro, the hope is that the messages will prevent teens from being persuaded by tobacco industry marketing.

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“It’s for middle schoolers and high schoolers to fight back against big tobacco marketing,” Shapiro said. “One of the most powerful tools is hearing teens talk to other teens and hear why they don’t want to fall for this nasty habit.”

Public Health said tobacco companies spend about $30 million a year marketing their products in Montana. In all, about 13 percent of Montana high school students smoke tobacco.

Two of the winning drawings will be placed on a billboard, though Shapiro wasn’t sure which billboard. The first place winner will have his or her drawing displayed for two months and receive a $25 gift card. The second place winner’s drawing will be displayed for one month and receive a $15 gift card. Third and fourth place winners will also receive $15 gift cards.

The contest is made possible by a grant through the Montana Tobacco Use Prevention Program.

The last day to enter is January 25th. For more information and how to submit to a particular school, click here.