Gory images fail to deter young smokers - Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - 6 September

Graphic images of diseased lungs and heart surgery on cigarette packets have little impact on teenagers who have already taken up smoking, a new study has found.


Gory images fail to deter young smokers

Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - 6 September


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Graphic images of diseased lungs and heart surgery on cigarette packets have little impact on teenagers who have already taken up smoking, a new study has found.

But the pictures, which were introduced in the UK in 2008, do deter children who have not yet taken up the habit or have only “experimented” with tobacco.

Researchers at the University of Stirling surveyed almost 2,800 children aged 11 to 16, one in 10 of whom already smoked. They found that just 14 per cent of the smokers were put off by the images – a similar figure to the 13 per cent who were deterred by the written warnings previously in force, such as “smoking kills”, which were introduced in 2003.

Lead researcher Dr Crawford Moodie pointed out that putting the images on the back of the packs limited their impact and added that there was a risk that smokers had become desensitised to the pictures, which have not been changed since their introduction. The research is published in the journal Tobacco Control.

Smoking causes more preventable deaths than anything else in England: in 2011, almost 80,000 people died from smoking-related causes. Actions to deter people from smoking include a ban on television and press advertising.

Worldwide, tobacco kills nearly 6 million people a year, including 1 million non-smokers who are exposed to second-hand tobacco smoke. The World Health Organisation predicts that this could rise to more than 8 million by 2030 if no action is taken.

The WHO advocates graphic warnings on cigarette packaging, arguing that they significantly increase people’s awareness of the harms of tobacco. It says that best practice is for pictures to cover an average of at least half of the front and back of cigarette packs, but currently only 30 countries meet this standard.


Questions

  • Why do people smoke?
  • Do you think that unpleasant images would discourage you from doing something that you enjoy?
  • In your opinion, are images more powerful than words? Explain your answer.
  • What more do you think the government could do to encourage smokers to give up the habit?

Related resources


Smoking and disease

  • This graphic, hard-hitting PowerPoint also highlights methods of quitting.

The effects of smoking: Augmented reality

  • Would you like to see inside your body and witness the damage smoking does to your lungs? This augmented reality app will show you the effects of smoking.

Smoking lesson

  • Students teach a partner about alveoli and cilia then question and test each other.

Smoking: Collection of old adverts

  • Use these historic smoking adverts as stimuli to get students to consider how opinions regarding smoking have changed.


Further news resources


First News front page

  • Help your pupils understand the features of the front page of a newspaper.

Write all about it

  • Get students creating their own news report with this step-by-step guide.

What is the News?

  • A sociological and media perspective on what makes an event 'newsworthy'.

On the box

  • Help pupils to write their own TV news broadcast with this handy PowerPoint.

Structuring stories

  • A scheme of work to help students structure news stories.

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