Ontario Lung Association introduces ‘The Toker’ to educate about cannabis smoking

Who: The Ontario Lung Association, Edelman, Smiley Guy Studios.

What: “The Toker,” a new animated “superhero” whose fondness for smoking cannabis renders him incapable of saving the day.

When & Where: Created with funding from Health Canada, the program is built around a series of video shorts housed on a dedicated website (TheTokerOnline.ca). The videos are also being shared on digital platforms and via on-campus activations at Canadian universities.

Canadian influencers will also be incorporated into the videos to help bring the story to life says the Ontario Lung Association.

Why: The goal is to educate younger Canadians about the dangers of smoking cannabis. The campaign uses humour—which Edelman says is “something we know our target reacts well to”—to raise awareness of the lung and health risks associated with cannabis smoking.

A study conducted by Leger Marketing on behalf of the Ontario Lung Association found that smoking is the most common form of consumption for 87% of Canadian cannabis users 18 to 25, while 64% of respondents said they wish they knew more about the impact smoking has on their lungs.

Studies have shown that heavy or long-term cannabis smoking can lead to chronic bronchitis and a worsening of chronic lung disease symptoms including cough, excessive sputum, wheezing and a decline in lung function.

How: A series of animated videos follow “The Toker” as he springs into action against various threats, only to have his efforts undermined by compromised lung function stemming from his cannabis use.

The first video shows him preparing to defend his city against “hostile Martian warlords,” only to wind up wheezing and gasping for air. “Can The Toker help innocent citizens breathe easier,” says the voiceover. “Probably not.” The videos direct viewers to “The Toker” website.

And we quote: “The goal of this national education effort is to protect the health and safety of young Canadians by giving them the knowledge they need to make informed choices.” — George Habib, president and CEO of the Ontario Lung Association.

Chris Powell