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Lying to teens

2001-07-03 13:24:47+00 by Dan Lyke 7 comments

Oh, here's a great idea: Lie to teens in the hopes that they'll trust you. The "Medical Institute of Austin, Texas" tries scare tactics that try to portray smoking as more dangerous than sex.

[ related topics: Politics Sexual Culture ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:32:01+00 by: ziffle

"In the 60's" <g> they told us pot, acid, etc. would destroy our dna, and ruin our life.

When we will we all get the government off our backs and out of our lives?

Damn Liberals and Conservatives!

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:32:01+00 by: TC

You know the really scarey part of that? They brought this subject up on the radio yesterday and about half the parents said they would rather have their children start smoking instead of having premarital sex!!!! This is in the progressive Bay Area!!! maybe it was just stupid caller day.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:32:02+00 by: Larry Burton

I had to think about that one real hard. Given the choice, which I wouldn't be, I think I would rather see my sons smoke than indulge in premarital sex while minors. The consequences of irresponsible sex are much more immediate than smoking which gives one a better chance to correct the mistake of smoking without lasting consequences.

Of course, I do live in those regressive hills of Tennessee just a stones throw from the tobacco fields.

#Comment made: 2001-07-03 20:28:55+00 by: sethg [edit history]

Umm, my reading of the article was that they're trying to portray sex[Wiki] as more dangerous than smoking[Wiki] ....

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:32:02+00 by: Dan Lyke

Huh. It's funny to think about this a bit longer and realize that I can see Larry's side.

Of course I think the real solution is to teach them about safety in sex the same way we teach them about safety crossing the street: "look both ways", "don't chase the ball", "don't exchange body fluids", "use water based lube with latex".

Which sent me off looking for risk.

Pedestrian deaths and automobile deaths in the U.S. for those under 24 run about 1k and 12,000 per year, respectively. Unplanned teen births run 400k or thereabouts ("planned" seems to be roughly 2 in 10...).

The CDC Projected Smoking-Related Deaths Among Youth says:

Based on application of this PSAM to the state-specific estimates of potential smokers, the overall number of potential future smoking-attributable deaths among persons aged 0-17 years during 1995 was 5,318,681 for the United States

Even accounting for "planned" teen pregnancies, smoking deaths attributable to those who start smoking as teens are 10x teen births. Health-care costs are estimated at $12k per smoking related death in that calculation, and we recently saw the $160k number bandied about here, so, economically, stopping a teen pregnancy or stopping a kid from starting to smoke has similar impact.

The difference is that if they have a kid, in 20 or 30 years they can start to live again, if they start smoking in 30 or so years they'll stop living. Given that as a parent most of your contact with them will be in that 20 or 30 years, I can see how smoking would be preferable.

Back to the whole "don't run after balls" (sorry) thought, what if we were able to teach those lessons in the same way we teach playing in traffic? Seems the right solution to me.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:32:02+00 by: TC

Hummm, Larry your expession is pretty much the concensus of those that would rather have their children smoking. You prefaced the word sex with "irresponsible" so I think Dan's post about education mitigates most of what I would rant about but I would say that I take it a bit further. Life is full of risk/reward propositions and I don't always think the safest choice is the best. Perhaps one of the most dangerous ventures my daughters will engage in is driving a car, but I think it's worth the risk and I will do my best to see that they learn how to do safely and adeptly, because the consequences of poor driving can be so dire. I think sex ,like driving, is natural part of life, though rife with danger is worth learning safely (they are on their own for adeptly). I have no idea how I would teach my girls to smoke safely.

#Comment made: 2001-07-04 06:05:56+00 by: bwilliam [edit history]

I agree that we should not lie to the young. The discussion on comparing teen-age unwed pregnancies AND smoking is not useful. The comparison is not rational. Why don't we de-link the two subjects and provide appropriate factual information to teens concerning both? Lies eat away at the social fabric somewhat like acid, or, cancer. We currently live in a society where lies are all the rage and are rationalized as a useful method to achieve dubious utopian goals. Utopia is not built on lies. Hell is built with lies. Nightmare worlds are built with lies.