Study: Smokers face exclusion

The chief of a study into the smoking habits of young people has called on authorities to emphasize in forthcoming anti-smoking campaigns the threat of social exclusion, noting that this is more likely to influence youngsters than repeating the health risks associated with nicotine. «People are looking for a different motive for quitting smoking – that’s the impression I get from the youngsters’ responses,» said Giorgos Anogeianakis, who heads the experimental physiology department of the Aristotle University’s Medical School in Thessaloniki. According to the study, carried out over a period of one year with a sample of 1,400 secondary school pupils and university students in the northern city, nonsmokers are increasingly shunning smokers. Nonsmokers said they prefer the company of others who do not smoke and smokers tend to spend most of their time with other smokers, Anogeianakis said, noting that this pattern reflects new smoking restrictions which segregate the smoking from the nonsmoking public. According to the professor, the results of the one-year study suggest that a new approach might be more effective in anti-smoking campaigns targeting youngsters. «It would be good if future campaigns focused less on the stereotype of negatively projecting the repercussions of smoking and more on the social exclusion awaiting smokers,» Anogeianakis said. The role played by the family in preventing children from starting smoking was also clear in the results of the survey. The majority of nonsmoking respondents said that their fathers were not smokers while most students who smoke reported that their fathers were, or had been, smokers.