According to the Lung Association of Canada, most smokers start in their teens. Every day, between 82,000 and 99,000 teens take up the habit.

With this in mind, the Government of Saskatchewan is launching a youth anti-smoking campaign for next week’s National Non-Smoking Week.

"Protecting youth and educating them about the harms associated with tobacco remains a priority for our Government," Health Minister Dustin Duncan said in a press release, "This campaign has a strong anti-tobacco message coming from Saskatchewan youth, and we hope the voices of their peers will help persuade young people to stay tobacco free."

Smoking rates amongst youth climbed in the 1990’s, but have been slowly declining since. Despite the decline, the Canadian Lung Association estimates that 20 per cent of Canadian teens smoke.

The province’s campaign includes TV, online, and Facebook ads with Saskatchewan young people commenting on the negative effects of tobacco.

According to the Lung Association of Saskatchewan, the rate of teen smoking is almost double than that of the rest of the population.

“Those numbers give us a clear indication that a large percentage of our efforts should go to that age group,” said Jill Hubik, registered nurse and health education coordinator for the Saskatchewan Lung Association.

Hubik said the best way to educate teens about smoking is to talk about short and long-term effects that relate directly to their lives. Short-term effects like bad breath, yellowing teeth, and less endurance for athletes are consequences that young people can easily relate to. When it comes to the long-term effects, Hubik said they shouldn’t be sugar-coated.

“I think every week should be National Non-Smoking Week,” Hubik said, “However, it’s a great way for everyone to really take time and think about the harmful consequences tobacco poses on our province and on our health care system.”

In Saskatchewan, overall smoking prevalence decreased 3.4 per cent between 2007/2008 and 2009/210. In 2009/2010, the most recent year data is available, 22 per cent of the Saskatchewan population 12 years old and older reported smoking daily or occasionally. This is an all-time low.