AFinch wrote:Except it won't be that realization. 14 year olds are invincible, at least in their own minds, and mouth/lung cancer are things that only happen to disgusting looking and sounding "really old people" in TV PSAs. At least that was my experience in 30 years of treating children.
Adolescents do engage in a lot of risky behavior. Education about alcohol abuse, drugs, reckless driving, practicing safe sex, etc. seems to have limited success in piercing their sense of immortality.
What seems more effective where tobacco use is concerned is emphasizing, not the health risks, but the disgusting nature of the habit. Making tobacco use socially unacceptable on the grounds of how unaesthetic it is is a far better strategy for reaching adolescents.
Smoking, let alone chewing tobacco, never tempted me. Part of the reason was suffering so much passive smoke that I damn well knew I would not enjoy cigarettes. Another part of it was my disgust with seeing the effect of smoking on people's teeth, the unappealing discoloration of the skin on their fingers and around their mouths, the stale smell of their breath, bodies, hair and clothes, etc.
I think the bottom line, though, is that if someone is determined to engage in risky behavior, you can't really stop them through either education or fear of punishment. Of course, I'm not saying we shouldn't educate or just sit back and do nothing if we learn a kid is doing something risky. The best hope is that this was an experiment that will not be repeated.
Once people do become addicted, breaking the habit can be next to impossible. My mother never quit smoking, despite suffering from COPD and other smoking-related health problems.