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Internet to lower smoking rates among young people: research

Source :Xinhua          update : 2011-04-06

Social media is a powerful weapon in the fight to lower smoking take-up rates in young people, Australian researchers said Sunday.

Queen Elizabeth Hospital, the University of South Australia and Brisbane Royal Children's Hospital are conducting research into the prevention of smoking for young people through mass media.

Researchers said existing mass-media messages, such as billboards and radio spots, had little impact on the youth market.

"There is a great deal of peer pressure in schools and the community for young people to smoke," a researcher at Adelaide's Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Kristin Carson told Australia Associated Press on Sunday.

"Yet in the new forms of social media, like Facebook, there is a tag that encourages people to declare themselves smoke-free and to say they would not date somebody who smokes.

"That is exactly the opposite of what is happening in school yards, and we know young people are increasingly turning to things like My Space, Facebook and Twitter to communicate with each other. "

In that case, Kristin said researchers are now conducting trials to assess the potential of directing the anti-smoking message through online communication forums.