Keep Teens Away From Smoking

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Despite the efforts of college students to quit smoking, recent research conducted by Joyce M. Wolburg at Marquette University suggests that an extended trial and error period is necessary. Given that most college students begin smoking in high school, another study by faculty at HEC Montreal and University of Texas at San Antonio provides insights into how graphic cigarette warning labels impact intentions of American and Canadian teens. Both studies appear in the Summer 2009 issue of the Journal of Consumer Affairs.

The Wolburg study reveals that, despite good intentions to quit smoking after college, multiple strategies (and multiple attempts) are typically necessary to be successful at smoking cessation. Despite the best efforts to prevent teens from smoking, some ignore the risks and become smokers. By the time they are college students smokers, many want to quit but need strategies that get results. Programs that incorporate the real stories and experiences of those who failed early on but didn’t give up offer hope to a group of people who may be among the best candidates for quitting. Future research will continue to refine those strategies.

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The second study, conducted by Lalla Ilhame Sabbane and Jean-Charles Chebat, both at HEC Montreal, and Tina M. Lowrey at the University of Texas at San Antonio, reveals that graphic cigarette warning labels are most effective for Canadian participants, leading to negative attitudes and lower smoking intentions, but the graphic label was least effective at lowering smoking intentions for US participants.

"These results suggest that American teens were negatively impacted by the graphic label, perhaps because of its novelty," Lowrey said.

Additional research should be conducted to determine whether the positive impact for Canadian teens is, indeed, due to their level of familiarity with the graphics that have been used for the past decade in Canada. If more teens can be convinced not to begin smoking, then fewer college students will need to struggle with the cessation attempts studied by Wolburg.

This study is published in the Summer 2009 issue of the Journal of Consumer Affairs. Media wishing to receive a PDF of this article may contact [email protected]

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