Traverse City Record-Eagle


February 8, 2014

Another View: New anti-smoking campaign aimed at teens

If you want to stop people from smoking, the best bet is to target them while they are young.

That’s because smoking tends to be a habit picked up in youth. If people reach adulthood without smoking, chances are they never will start. In fact, the federal Food and Drug Administration estimates almost 90 percent of adult smokers were using tobacco by age 18.

So it makes sense to get the message out to young people, in the hope they avoid taking up the habit. Presumably, it’s far easier to be a nonsmoker than a reformed one.

But how do you effectively convey to teens the dangers of harmful action in a way that will discourage them from taking up the habit? In many ways, this is a question that has haunted adults for generations. “Don’t do that,” is frequently an ineffective tactic, particular if adults aren’t practicing what they preach.

And it’s no secret that young people are lured by dangerous activities. In many circles, smoking is cool, edgy. The insistence by adults for teens not to engage in smoking can backfire.

We say this because the FDA is about to embark on a new $115 million anti-smoking campaign aimed at teens. The effort will include ads that show wrinkled skin on youthful faces and teens paying for cigarettes with teeth.

Obviously, the idea of these ads is to show that smoking takes a toll. And if young people are concerned about their physical appearance — if not their fundamental health — they ought to consider the hazards of smoking.

But will these efforts work? Will teens who see these ads get the message regarding the risks of smoking, or will they see the campaign as an attempt at manipulation?

One of the problems with smoking is that the damage it produces is not immediate. In the minds of young people, the consequences of what might happen in 20 to 30 years may not be seen as particularly important.

Text Only

Opinion Poll
AP Video
SKorea Ferry Toll Hits 156, Search Gets Tougher Video Shows Possible Syrian Gas Attack Cubs Superfans Celebrate Wrigley's 100th Raw: Cattle Truck Overturns in Texas Admirers Flock to Dole During Kansas Homecoming Raw: Erupting Volcanoes in Guatemala and Peru Alibaba IPO Could Be Largest Ever for Tech Firm FBI Joining Probe of Suburban NY 'Swatting' Call U.S. Paratroopers in Poland, Amid Ukraine Crisis US Reviews Clemency for Certain Inmates Raw: Violence Erupts in Rio Near Olympic Venue Raw: Deadly Bombing in Egypt Raw: What's Inside a Commercial Jet Wheel Well Raw: Obama Arrives in Japan for State Visit Raw: Anti-Obama Activists Fight Manila Police Motels Near Disney Fighting Homeless Problem Michigan Man Sees Thanks to 'bionic Eye' S.C. Man Apologizes for Naked Walk in Wal-Mart Chief Mate: Crew Told to Escape After Passengers