How Seriously Do Teens Take Smoking Risks?

Louisa Stokes /

Contrary to popular beliefs that paint teenager as reckless and rebellious, new research from the University of Bristol shows that the youth are paying attention to the risks associated with smoking—provided that cigarette packages have the right kind of aesthetics. In an effort to get more teenagers (and more people in general) to quit smoking, New Zealand, Canada and Australia have all advocated for plain packaging; in other words, the removal of brand logos from cigarettes packages, instead replacing them with health warnings, images of health hazards and the brand name in plain, standardized font. Australia has now gone so far as to mandate such packaging and they are taking a foot in the right direction—the Bristol researchers claim that plain packaging is a smoking deterrent for teens.

According to the researchers at the University of Bristol, plain packaging works particularly well on adolescents who are occasional smokers; that is, adolescents who don’t smoke regularly and probably do so for socializing purposes. When confronted with the harsh images on the plain packages, teens tend to think twice about tobacco use and tend to pay closer to the harms associated with cigarettes. They are more receptive to the blunt message of plain packages: tobacco kills.

The more teens are exposed to the harsh realities of smoking cigarettes via plain packaging, the more likely they are to imprint this information on their brain. It is important that teens learn to associate danger with tobacco because smoking is a psycho-social habit; that is, smoking is conditioned over time by transferring positive emotions onto cigarettes, transforming them in symbols of stress relief, celebration and socializing.

It is important to target teens with anti-smoking campaigns because in their youth their minds are malleable and their bodies are healthy. The earlier they get the message that tobacco kills, the less likely they are to suffer its toxic effects. Plain packaging is an effective method of keeping teens on the tobacco-less straight and narrow—and Australia has the right idea to require it by law.

Smoking is a psychosocial habit that does great damage to a teenager’s mental and physical health. If you are someone or a teenager you know is struggling with a smoking habit, please contact us for more details, check us out on Facebook or share your own ideas and experiences with us on Twitter.


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Hi Maureen,You worked your wonders on me on the 16th of January 2013 for smoking and guess what? I haven’t had a smoke or even felt like one! It is truly amazing after smoking for over 30 years I am no longer a slave to the smokes. I feel better (although I was a bit grumpy for a week or so) but that has passed, I can breathe better and my cough has gone. But food tastes so much better so I am trying to watch what I eat. I do get a craving every now and then and it goes as quick as it come…
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How Seriously Do Teens Take Smoking Risks? was last modified: March 16th, 2013 by Maureen

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