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Learning about smoking our own way

Isabel Read discusses X-HALE in her winning blog

Written by Isabel Read and posted in opinion

This is an opinion of a young person and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of It is one person's experience and may be different for you. If you'd like to write something for please contact

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Youth groups across Ireland have made short films to encourage young people not to smoke as part of the Irish Cancer Society’s X-HALE Short Film Competition. Isabel Read is a member of Naas No Name Club, check out her winning blog that explains her experience of taking part in X-HALE and the effect it had on her and her group.

Hey, I’m Isabel and my youth group Naas No Name club got involved in X-HALE 2017. It was honestly such an eye opening and fun experience. The thing that sets X-HALE apart from school anti-smoking programmes is they don’t sit you down in an assembly hall, bring in a scary looking officer and have him ram facts we already know down our throats for two hours.

You see X-HALE gets that teenagers are defiant and will usually disobey what our teachers, parents and anyone trying to enforce order says. Not all teenagers, but come tell me you haven’t found something more appealing when it’s forbidden. So X-HALE chose the self-directed learning route for the programme.

Right let’s get to the fun bit, the short film. So first the shameless self promotion. Our short film that should be nominated for several Oscars is “One in Two” which is in the senior category. It’s the story of two friends and everything is fine and dandy. But rather like skipping through a laundry commercial standard field right in to a brick wall, in comes the cigarettes. Then boom, the music gets sad and there are intense smoking close ups, alley ways and death.

Ironically, it was a lot of fun to film but let’s start at the beginning. After the solid twenty five minutes of listening to people’s ideas i.e. talking over each other until someone screamed shut up which worked for ten sentences  and the cycle repeated itself until we got some good ideas. Our main ideas were from Kevin which was a film talking about our experiences of lung cancer in our families as well as dressing our resident red head Andrew up as a cigarette but Lucy’s idea was the one we went for.

We quickly decided on the roles and started to film. It was such a great time. Despite some hill rolling injuries and some out bursts of laughter we got the shots we needed. It was then over to our editor Emily who spent the weekend chopping and stitching together our short film which is what you now view today. You can watch it on YouTube in the X-HALE playlist which has the thumbnail of one of the worst photos I have taken but ah well swings and roundabouts.

I learnt a lot about from this project like the ingredients in cigarettes. Did you know cigarettes contain some of the same chemicals as rocket fuel? Yeah, rocket fuel. Trust me, smoking is far from out of this world. Also, things like the effects it has on smokers and the many diseases it can cause. We learnt in our own ways but all still came to the same conclusion. Smoking is awful for you and either never start or stop before your heart does.

I along with the rest of my club look forward to attending the X-HALE Youth Awards on the 6th of July. I would definitely recommend other groups participating in X-HALE.  

Nass No Name Club is one of forty youth groups across twenty counties that have been hard at work over the last few months making and promoting youth-led short films to spread the word about the impact of tobacco and encourage young people not to smoke as part of X-HALE 2017. The entry with the most views will take home the Online Award at the X-HALE Youth Awards on July 6th, so show your support for Ireland’s first smoke free generation by checking out the entries below and sharing your favourite with your friends!

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Published June 22nd, 2017
Last updated June 27th, 2017
Tags smoking quit smoking health
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