Say No

U.S. Anti-Smoking Campaign Targets Teens, But Parents Need the Help

woman smoking, Source dpa
Middle-aged smokers should be the focus of anti-smoking campaigns, not their kids.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Smoking burdens healthcare systems with millions in extra costs, but experience has shown that those who give up smoking are often depressed.

  • Facts


    • The new U.S. anti-smoking ad campaign is being run by American Legacy Foundation, which was created as part of a 1998 settlement between tobacco companies and U.S. attorney generals.
    • The American Journal of Preventive Medicine estimates previous Legacy campaigns prevented 450,000 teens from starting to smoke.
    • Targeting middle aged smokers would help, as this group does not smoke because of peer pressure but because they are addicted to nicotine.
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  • Pdf

There’s a new anti-smoking campaign in the United States. Posters show smartly dressed, hip young people looking confidently into the camera. “We can be the generation to end teen smoking,” the text reads.

For as long as I can remember, anti-smoking campaigns have tried to convince young people that smoking isn’t cool. Dragging on a cigarette once was seen as rebellious, to show that you wanted to be like James Dean. Now, not smoking is supposedly the way to stand up to authority, rebelling against the tobacco mafia, so to speak.

When I was young, growing up in Germany, I didn’t think smoking was cool. I took it up only with great difficulty so I wouldn’t cough so much when someone passed me a joint. Smoking marijuana – now that was cool.

Another reason for smoking: I needed something to do while standing in a corner doing nothing at a party. So I took out a cigarette. No anti-smoking campaign could have kept me from doing it. If someone had asked, “Would you rather die than stand there in the corner like a loser with nothing in your hand?” I would have immediately said “yes.”

Today, of course, you can always pull out your smartphone and check Facebook. Parents should remember that when they criticize their children for always having a cell phone in their hands. If they didn’t, they’d be smoking.

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