Two students from rural North Sanpete Middle School in Moroni will soon become famous to radio listeners throughout the state — or, at least their voices will.

Eighth-graders Jakeb Lane and Randy Poulsen, along with classmate Andrew Hardman, beat out more than 7,000 students from 85 schools across the state to win the third annual Truth From Youth anti-tobacco advertising contest, sponsored by the Utah Department of Health and coordinated by Salt Lake advertising agency Crowell & Associates. The boys collaborated on a public service announcement urging their peers not to smoke.

Lane and Poulsen had the chance to help produce and star in the commercial Thursday afternoon at Clear Channel Broadcasting in West Valley. Hardman was not able to make it, so Davis High student Matt Cooper took Hardman's place in front of the mic. Cooper, 15, lent his voice in January to another anti-tobacco ad produced by the health department and Crowell & Associates.

The 60-second spot features the game show "Insanity," where a crazy contestant can win up to $1 million for doing things like hacking off his finger with a machete, running through a room of "flaming death ants," swallowing a live grenade or eating roadkill skunk. While Ted, the contestant, is more than willing to participate in the antics, the crux of the commercial is when the host asks him to smoke a cigarette.

"I may be insane, but I'm not stupid," Ted, voiced by Lane, says.

When the host reminds Ted he'll lose all the cash for not smoking, Ted replies, "I'd rather lose that than my lungs."

Rhonda Greenwood of Crowell & Associates said the ads hit home for a lot of teens because they are written by their peers.

"Kids want to be talked to like people. They want the simple truth," Greenwood said. "We know that kids influence other kids."

The contest also accepts entries in a television category. Jordan Linford of Orem High School won top prize for his submission and had the chance to star in the commercial, along with several other Utah teens. Linford's commercial is already airing on youth-oriented stations, such as MTV, the WB and Fox.

The Truth From Youth contest is part of a year-round Truth About Tobacco program. The program's purpose is to involve both smoking and non-smoking youth in encouraging their peers to stay tobacco-free, to quit smoking or to never start.

"The youth educate themselves about the dangers of tobacco in the process of creating the ads, and the resulting messages are more likely to persuade students to avoid tobacco because they have been produced by students themselves," said Tracy Crowell, owner of Crowell & Associates.

The boys' commercial will begin airing in the next couple of weeks on radio stations throughout the state.


E-MAIL: awelling@desnews.com