A study on teen smoking in the Netherlands has revealed that visual cues play an important part of teen smoking. Removing smoking from television and movies, as well as from cigarette packaging and advertising, removes the visual cues which may initiate teen cigarette use.
In the past, smoking prevention for teens pushed the health risks associated with smoking. Those type of ads, as well as anti-smoking ads, didn’t work effectively in stopping teens from lighting up.
A researcher, Zeena Harakeh, believes teens light up when they see visual images of other teens smoking or when they are around their peers who are smoking. She calls this “implicit, passive influencing.” Offering a cigarette to a nonsmoking teen does not provide the same motivation to smoke as when they see their peers smoking. Teens who communicate online and see another teen smoke, will be more likely to smoke. That visual image, without smelling the smoke, is enough to make them crave the cigarette.
Robert Proctor, another expert on the tobacco industry, also says visual cues such as tobacco advertising in movies and actors smoking, promote smoking behavior. Both experts agree that simply telling teens that smoking is bad for them won’t stop them from initially lighting up.
The best deterrent for keeping kids from smoking is to tell them the tobacco industry is lying to them. According to Poctor, “kids don’t like being lied to.” Informing them of the tobacco industry’s tricks to getting them hooked is a powerful way to prevent them from smoking in the first place.
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