This morning I was listening to NPR and a report on teens and smoking. Smoking is on the rise among young people, after declining for many years. I don't remember everything that was said, but this really stuck in my mind: one of the major reasons teens (or even pre-teens) start smoking is seeing characters in movies smoking.
Yeah, that's right: seeing actors playing fictional characters who are smoking makes kids decide to smoke.
So often when I read articles about public education I see the words "critical thinking." This is often paired with an appeal for more money so that teachers can be hired to teach critical thinking. And yet, kids in large numbers start smoking because a fictional character on a screen smokes.
Oh, yeah, I almost forgot. Some start because the "good guy" in the movie is cool and they want to be like him. Others smoke because the villain does, and they want to be like him! I suppose the girls start because the woman is beautiful. (Of course they don't understand that if the actress smoked in real life, she wouldn't be so beautiful.)
But I have an idea for a new law! Along with more money for public education, everyone likes new laws! How about this: every actor that smokes in a film should be require to record a PSA to be shown before the movie. They should talk about how in real life they don't smoke because doing so would make them too sick and too ugly to be movie stars.
And then they should show films of real people suffering from the effects of smoking. That's another thing I got out of the news piece. Kids won't avoid smoking because their parents tell them not to smoke, but they will respond to information about the bad effects of smoking on their bodies. At least, so says a 19-year-old smoker. Who has seen such information. But still smokes and has no intention of quitting, because smoking tastes and feels good.
What an ignorant, stupid generation we are raising. So much for critical thinking.
And yes, I was being sarcastic about the new law.