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Animated antismoking film aims at kids

Wham! Zoom! Whoosh! Car chases. International intrigue. Snowball fights. A billowing explosion (of a cigarette factory) . . .

Falldown Brown in Smoky Lies, an animated film produced by the Center for Education Through Innovation at Dartmouth's C. Everett Koop Institute, has all of this action and more wrapped around an antismoking message. The film premiered in August at the 11th World Conference on Tobacco and Health and also reached the finals of the World Animation Competition.

The film's plot follows the efforts of a wicked "cigarette entrepreneur," a moose, to hook the people of China on cigarettes by using a special, extra-addictive additive—"liquid evil." Arrayed against him are tobacco-fighters Nic Ban, Wu Yan, and Gadget Gramps, as well as a young boy, Falldown Brown (pictured on the right in the still above). Dr. Koop also appears in the film, in cartoon form, to clear away some smoke with truths about tobacco and cigarette advertising.

Paul Gennaro, associate director of the Koop Institute, says that Smoky Lies "is more than just a film—it's a part of a complete school-based curriculum." The film is designed to be distributed to fourth-grade classrooms around the world (it's being translated into 11 languages), along with a three-day syllabus and a 50-page comic book. The story incorporates information about the harm cigarettes cause globally and the way tobaccoindustry advertising attempts to lure children to become smokers. The film battles this insidious advertising with its own kidfriendly format. Says Gennaro, "Kids love animation. It's a way to reach them and garner their attention."

Without revealing all of the plot's twists and turns, let it simply be said that after a rousing finale, the closing scene contains a hint of yet more action to come—in the hope of hooking kids on Falldown Brown's antismoking message. J.W.

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