Everyone has heard that smoking is not good for you. I don’t think there are many people who would try to tell you about the health benefits of smoking. Although most people know about the dangers of smoking, would seeing it help to convince them? It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. Is that true when it comes to education about the harmful effects of smoking? That seems to be the thought behind a new website produced by the Cancer Society of Finland. It is called the Tobacco Body. This is an interactive website designed to help teens see the damage that smoking can do to their body. It is meant to shock teens with the reality that smoking has devastating consequences on their body. The message seems to be, if you want a beautiful body, don’t smoke.
Let’s take a “look” at some of the things that are covered on the Tobacco Body. The health issues are in alphabetical order. The female model has health issues related to females, and the male model has health issues related to males. Some of the health problems overlap because they are not all gender specific. Starting with Acne, it shows the smoker’s half of the face and the non-smoker’s half of the face. There is a short description as to why smoker’s acne happens and why non-smokers tend to have less acne issues. This is not an extremely shocking start to the tutorial. Most teens will at some time deal with acne, although it might be helpful to realise that smoking can increase the possibility of acne and make it harder to heal.
Going down the list of issues you find that there are several things you might not have realised. A few of them being: Smoking can cause extra facial and body hair growth in females. Something I am sure no adolescent girl wants to have happen. Smoking can affect you weight, and not in a positive way either. According to research, smoking does not help you lose weight. It can affect your hair causing it to be brutal and break off easily. Then you get to things that teens would probably know a little about, but seeing the image might help it resonate with them in a new way. When you click on Lung Cancer, the image is quite distinct. One side is a healthy pink lung, the other a dark, almost black looking lung. An ulcer in the stomach is also not something anyone would want to have.
The website is well thought out and an interesting idea. Although as I read the captions to each health issue, I wondered if some of the explanations are a bit too simplistic. Looking at the caption related to weight gain (which is only on the female model) it says that as a non-smoker “you are on a wonder diet” since research shows that smokers are rounder around the middle. While that is true, that might not be the best way to convey the idea to adolescent girls who might be struggling with weight issues. I also would have liked to see them address several other health issues related to smoking, namely more about different cancers. Having a few more pictures might be helpful also. It is debatable whether focusing on health issues or beauty would be more effective when dealing with teens. Overall this seems to be a very helpful step towards educating adolescents about the hazards, or should we say the ugliness, of smoking.