Teen smoking is a huge health issue that has ramifications for the rest of a person’s life. Smoking is an addiction that begins at a young age and continues to follow them through life. According to the Center for Disease Control, “Smoking and smokeless tobacco use are initiated and established primarily during adolescence.” Most interesting is that “9 out of 10 smokers started smoking by age 18, and 99% started by age 26” (Center for Disease Control, 2014). While these statistics tell a stark story, they also show an opportunity. If people can be prevented from smoking before the age of 26, it is very unlikely that a person will ever pick up the habit of smoking later on in life. What follows is an overview of the problem and a proposed solution
Smoking is one of the biggest health problems facing our country. As an addiction, it is much easier to prevent someone from smoking in the first place than it is convincing someone who is already addicted to take the steps necessary to quit. According to the American Lung Association, “If current tobacco use patterns persist, an estimated 6.4 million current child smokers will eventually die prematurely from a smoking-related disease” (The American Lung Association, 2014).
That smoking is unhealthy is something that is very well known. TV advertisements are banned that support smoking. From schools, to billboards, to TV commercials, to magazines ads, there is a constant bombardment for teens to understand that smoking is bad for them. However, teens are more likely to listen to peer pressure than they are common sense. What needs to happen in order for teenagers to not smoke is to speak to them at their level.
What has changed drastically about generation Y and previous generations is the ubiquitous of the Internet. YouTube is one of the results of this. With Youtube there is the concept of viral videos, or videos that reach millions of people because their content is shared over social networks. As millions of people are reached by these videos, an ad campaign designed to discourage teen smoking and also written in such a way to maximize the potential to go viral would be a novel way to reach teens and discourage them from picking up a habit which carries life-long health consequences with it.
Discouraging from smoking in these videos should be study. If there is one thing that teenagers do not like it is being told what to do. Instead, there should be a humorous, or compelling plotline that engages people and draws them to the show. The anti-smoking campaign should be secondary to this. Humor and an engaging story are going to be what brings teens to watch these videos in the first place. Once that is in place, the characters can have lines that are condescending to smokers and present them in a negative light. This would be speaking to something very important to teenagers—acceptance.
Smoking wreaks habits on a person’s health. Statistically speaking, it is a habit that generally starts during a person’s teen years and persists for life. In order to fight smoking, teen smoking needs to be the number one priority. The best way to get through to teens is to speak to them at their level. Using the Internet sites they frequent to convey that information in a subtle way is one of the best ways to do this.
"Youth and Tobacco Use." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 14 Feb. 2014. Web. 16 Feb. 2014. <http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics
"Children and Teens - American Lung Association." American Lung Association. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Feb. 2014. <http://www.lung.org/stop-smoking/about-smoking/facts-figures/children-teens-and-tobacco.html>.