Remember the last scene in Grease when Sandy was dressed in black and Danny Zucko was crazy for her? The epitome of 1950s sexiness, desire, and appeal with cigarettes is no longer valid in today’s world.
As we see first-hand in our stop smoking clinic, young people in modern society not only know, but believe that smoking is no longer cool.
Several decades ago when smoking was cool, very little was known about the harmful effects of smoking. Back then, popular thought was that it would simply stunt your growth. The youth of today are better informed and better educated about smoking than their great-grandparents were.
With pop culture today focused on healthy lifestyles, athletic bodies, and a scorn for smoking, young people today view smoking as not cool – a trend we see confirmed at our stop smoking clinic.
Young people today know smoking is not the way to be cool. Health education, media, and nonsmoking propaganda have shown students the ugly side to smoking. Students are exposed to repulsive pictures of cancerous growths on smokers’ faces and mouths in health education with the information repeated in any stop smoking clinic. Anti-smoking organisations demonstrate no mercy with their educational propaganda pictures of a smoker’s lungs that are all black and grey.
Media portrayal for the ideal youth of today focuses on health, strength, endurance, and athletic physical appearance. Young people in today’s society are inundated with advertisements for sports, fitness, and good looks, while anti-smoking campaigns portray smoking as outdated, not smart, and not cool.
Youth of today have less exposure to the cool and acceptable portrayal of smoking than children did in the past. Smoking advertisements are virtually nonexistent in many countries. Moreover, many public places have banned smoking, making it less visible and accessible to youth. Children have less exposure to smoking at home with a decreased number of parental smokers from the past.
Additionally, most current television shows and sitcoms geared toward young people do not portray smoking at all. With the minimal exposure to actual physical smoking, young people are more attuned to the uncomfortable side effects of secondhand smoke, causing them to make a concerted effort to avoid it, and making the act of smoking even more unappealing.
One of the most important factors for young people is acceptance by their peers. In today’s world, fitting in by smoking is no longer applicable. In addition to smoking being banned in most public places (making it more difficult for youth to get a hold of cigarettes) popular culture places athletics, intelligence, and attractive bodies as the desirable ideal to achieve. Trying cigarettes to fit in with a group is no longer applicable or acceptable in today’s young society. The social image young people want to project is one of health and fitness.
While it is true most adult smokers began smoking in their youth, the general consensus among young people is to choose nonsmoking lifestyles. Young people want to be accepted by their peers, they know the risks and dangers of smoking, and generally view smoking as a weakness. All of these things help contribute to the unpopularity of smoking for today’s youth.