If there is anyone in America who doesn't know the health risks of smoking cigarettes, it's because they have been living in a closet.
First time smokers aren't ignorant about the health risks, they simply do not see them as being as great as do folks like Dr. Schroeder.
None of these people are putting lit sticks of dynamite in their mouths because they know that everytime anyone
tries to smoke dynamite they will blow off their heads.
Everyone who has smoked has not come down with cancer and died, and just about everyone knows of someone who lived a long, cancer-free life despite their smoking habit.
This is not to dispute the health threat posed by cigarettes, nor to suggest that anyone is making a reasonable decision when they first choose to smoke, but young people who are, today, choosing to smoke would not make a different choice if anti-tobacco ads were run around the clock.
And its not a question of youth relevant advertising. Today's anti-tobacco ads do not feature a lecture from someone like Dr. Schroeder. They are specifically aimed at young people, and Madison Avenue has demonstrated very well that it is able to influence the choices of youths.
Obviously, there is an upside to smoking that trumps the perceived health risks, and the perceived health risks are not as dire as the opponents of tobacco use present them to be.
Two of my children smoke cigarettes and they are, otherwise, intelligent and educated. Many of their friends do too.
The major flaw in their risk analysis of smoking comes from their lack of appreciation for the addictive nature of nicotine. They all know smoking is a health risk, but they all believe the risk is not very great if you only smoke for a relatively short period of time --- and in this they are probably right.
They also all know that nicotine is addictive, but they all believe that they will be able to quit whenever they choose to do so --- and in this they are very wrong.
I don't believe any educational program can convince the majority of people who have never been addicted that they will become addicted if they use a particular substance.
Sometimes experience is the only effective teacher.
And, in the final analysis, people should be free to choose smoking cigarettes if they so desire.