In 1999, the American Legacy Foundation was founded in order to build a world where young people reject tobacco and anyone can quit. The American Legacy Foundation is behind such infamous commercial campaigns such as the edgy and hard-hitting truth(r) campaign, which is the largest youth smoking prevention campaign in the country. Their efforts are funded by a court settlement that was reached between a coalition of attorneys general in 46 states and five U.S. territories and the tobacco industry. Why would the courts come down so hard on big tobacco? Without getting into the legalities of the case, the common sense public health reasoning underpinning the entire issue is simple: according to the CDC, smoking cigarettes will result in the death or disability for half of all continuing smokers.
So if it’s so dangerous, and if there is so much effort being put into persuading people to stop smoking, why do people still smoke? Or, are people still smoking in as large numbers as they used to? These are questions I began to ask myself, but rather than base it on my own narrow observations, I asked my family and friends about their smoking habits and attitudes. What they said surprised me.
Almost no one admitted to being a current smoker. In fact, the only person who identified herself to me as a current smoker also stated that she is planning to quit! Only about one quarter of the people who responded said that they had previously been a smoker, but had quit. Therefore, it doesn’t seem like, at least within the group of people I spoke with, that recent no smoking campaigns have had much of an impact because there weren’t many smokers in the group to begin with. Age does not seem to be a factor because I spoke with people in age groups ranging from under 25 to 55-69.
Most of the people that I spoke with did not express the opinion that other adults should not smoke nor did not have the right to smoke, although that did not hold true for children. More than one person expressed approval at a ban of smoking in public places. One person suggested that smokers should be responsible for their own health costs.
Now It’s Your Turn
Of course, this cursory survey doesn’t go very far in answering my questions as I only queried a few of my family and friends who are probably a lot like me! My truth is that I am not now nor was I ever a smoker. So, it is with your help that I would like to conduct my informal experiment here on Associated Content to gain a better, if unscientific idea, of what the truth might be like across the country. I will ask you to answer a few simple questions with room at the end for you to add a general comment on your own about smoking.
It will be interesting to learn about the smoking habits and attitudes of people of all different ages all around the country. I wonder if the truth(r) campaign has made an impact on today’s youth. Or, have attitudes changed over the years as we’ve recognized the health risks of smoking, encouraging more people to smoke? On the other hand, perhaps many people feel as my family and friends do, that it is an adult’s right to choose to smoke if they wish, and my broader survey will find that a higher percentage of adults across the country are, in fact, smokers.
The Experiment: Please Complete the Following Survey
Use the comments feature to answer the following questions. You’re welcome to logout as needed and answer these questions anonymously if you wish.
1. In what state is your primary residence located?
2. What is your age group? Please enter one of the following: under 25, 25-39, 40-54, 55-69, 70 or older
3. Are you currently a cigarette smoker?
4. If you are not currently a cigarette smoker, were you ever a cigarette smoker in the past? (Note: merely trying a cigarette on one or two occasions would not count as being a previous cigarette smoker for the purposes of this question.)
5. If you are not currently a cigarette smoker, but WERE a cigarette smoker in the past, during what year (approximately) did you quit smoking?
6. Please enter a general comment about your attitudes about cigarette smoking if you wish. Any thoughts or feelings you have are welcome. One to two sentences would be the preferred length for comments.