It’s marketing at its finest. A clever camel with witty sayings. An elegant lady who exudes nothing but class. A cool hip-hop star rapping some catchy lyrics.
And what are each of these clever ads selling? Cigarettes.
The tobacco companies are some of the most convincing, persuasive sellers out there. Even though most people know the effects of tobacco use –1 in 5 deaths in the United States is caused by smoking (American Cancer Society, 2020) –many Americans still smoke. Add in the number of those who smoke cigars or smoke tobacco in pipes, and the number only grows.
In a 2014 study conducted by the Institute for Church Ministry, Adventist young people were asked if they believed that that smoking would have “no effect” on their Christian profession. Seventy-nine percent of respondents indicated that this was “never true” or “rarely true,” indicating that smoking would have a huge effect on their Christian profession. However, 15% indicated that this was “often” or “always true.”
What is scary is that for that 15%, cigarette use seems to be of little consequence. The ramifications are serious – not just for their physical health, but for their spiritual health as well. When our bodies are not functioning properly, our minds are not able to work at their full capacity. This makes developing a thoughtful, meaningful relationship with our Creator difficult.
What can you do to help young people who might be considering smoking, or already engaging in the habit? The CDC (2020) offers some practical tips:
- Look for signs of smoking. Kids who smoke tend to cough more, have asthma attacks, and develop more respiratory issues.
- Educate your young people. Tobacco is the most preventable cause of death in America, causing heart disease, strokes, and many different kinds of cancer. Share the statistics with your youth!
- Take a stand – early and often. Recognize the influence you have with the young people in your church. Stand up against the use of cigarettes and tobacco products. Let them know that it is not “okay” in your book! (CDC, 2020)
In addition to these helpful tips, consider partnering with parents. Working together with them, you may gain understanding to your young peoples’ lives outside of church.
While the media sends the message that “smoking is cool,” the reality is that this habit is taking lives. It’s time to show our young people that cigarette use is NOT as cool as they might think!
American Cancer Society. (2020). Is any type of tobacco product safe? American Cancer Society. Retrieved from http://www.cancer.org/research/infographicgallery/tobacco-related-healthcare-costs?gclid=COKlgc2v1cQCFcOGaQod60oAzQ
CDC. (2020). What you(th) should know about tobacco. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/youth/information-sheet/index.htm
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