When kids reach a certain age, they frequently want to prove to the world that they’re a “grown-up”. One way kids use to show that they’re more mature than they really are, is to smoke cigarettes. For some kids, this “habit” will last for only a few minutes or several days as they discover that tobacco irritates their lungs and makes them cough. For others, cigarette smoking has the potential to become a long term problem. The best way to keep kids from smoking is to make sure they don’t start to begin with. Fortunately, schools are evaluating a new program in the United Kingdom that may help to keep kids away from cigarettes entirely. This novel approach might be one that could be implemented in schools in your local area to keep kids from smoking in the first place.
Although many schools have designed programs to teach kids about the dangers of smoking, these programs are not always effective at curbing the growing smoking habit among kids and teens. The program in the U.K. works differently. The schools choose the most popular and influential kids at each location and gave them a two day anti-smoking training course. During the two days, the students are taught the dangers of smoking as well as how to talk to other students about those dangers. At the end of the two days, the kids are sent back to school to interact with the other students. The kids who underwent the training are instructed to talk to students about smoking in a casual, informal manner. They emphasize the health dangers as well as how “uncool” smoking is.
This plan was implemented as part of a study in the U.K. The results? Smoking activity among students at the schools using these trained students was observed to drop. Although the results were significant, the researchers noted that the significance was borderline, probably because several schools removed themselves from the study prematurely. Nevertheless, it appeared that smoking activity did decline with the use of trained students.
Would this type of program help to keep kids from smoking in your area? With the health problems associated with smoking, more efforts are needed to keep children from adopting this habit in the first place. Hearing the message that smoking isn’t cool from other kids that they respect is sometimes a more powerful message than hearing it from mom and dad. It would be interesting to see whether such a program would work in schools in this country. If it can stop even a few kids from smoking, it might be worthwhile.