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Teenagers unaware that blindness linked to smoking

Journal alert

Journal alert

Most young people are aware that smoking can cause lung cancer but few realise it can also lead to blindness.

A total of 260 smokers and non-smokers, aged 16-18 years, were surveyed. The proportion of teenagers who believed that smoking caused stroke, heart disease and lung cancer was 15 per cent , 27 per cent and 81 per cent respectively, but only 5 per cent realised that smoking could cause blindness. However, when respondents were asked to rank their fear of developing these conditions, blindness topped the list.

The researchers conclude that fear of blindness is more likely to motivate teenagers to quit smoking and suggest targeting teenagers with the message that ‘smoking causes blindness'.

Moradi P, Thornton J, Edwards R et al. Teenagers' perceptions of blindness related to smoking: a novel message to a vulnerable group. Br J Ophthalmol 2007 doi:10.1136/bjo.2006.108191

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