Do individuals really know and understand the risks entailed by their smoking decisions? The question is particularly important in the case of young persons, because most smokers start during childhood and adolescence. After years of intense publicity about the damages of smoking, it is generally believed that every teenager and adult in the U.S. knows that smoking is dangerous to health, thus decisions to smoke are informed choices. This book presents a counter-view, based on a survey of several thousand young persons and adults, probing attitudes, beliefs, feelings, and perceptions of risk associated with smoking. The authors agree that young smokers give little or no thought to health risks or the problems of addiction. The survey data contradicts the model of informed, rational choice and underscores the need for aggressive policies to counter tobacco firms’ marketing and promotional efforts and to restrict youth access to tobacco.
- Paul Slovic, PhD