Educational programs are frequently viewed as the most likely avenues toward intervention and/or prevention of the smoking habit. Based on the previous presentation of teenage smoking patterns, it appears logical that intervention in the early teenage years, and perhaps even sooner is the most important project for primary prevention.
A review of literature in this area reveals that traditionally there have been three major approaches to smoking education in the school setting: The “Scare” approach, the “Fact” approach, and the “Attitude” approach. The scare approach rarely incorporates the psychosocial factors into its strategies.
Rather it focuses primarily on scare tactics relating to the long-term dangers of smoking. Studies conducted in this area indicate that fear arousal does not appear to be enough to deter the onset of smoking or to be sufficiently successful in motivating smokers to stop.
Also, the “Fact” approach has not been found helpful in deterring the smoking behavior of teenagers, because it has been the very impersonal and just information-oriented approach. Virtually most investigations in this area report that adolescents smokers and non-smokers alike really believe that smoking is potentially dangerous to one’s health.
This is very important because it has long been emphasized by health educators that knowledge by itself cannot change a person’s attitudes or lifestyle. However, knowledge can be helpful if used with other techniques and strategies. The fact that the primary purpose of instruction on smoking and health is to influence the student to decide not to smoke implies that the student must make his own decision.
In order to help students make a positive decision, many studies suggest that smoking intervention programs should include affective educational activities such as values clarification and discussions pertaining to feelings and emotions as they relate to cigarette smoking. This approach is the most beneficial and is called the “Attitude” approach.