According to a study out of the University of Georgia, there is a not-so-good side-effect of ads aimed at stopping kids from smoking: they may actually encourage smoking. It turns out that the campaigns may actually strike a chord a cross-section of youth, and provide a clear way that kids can rebel.
Paek said the data showed middle school students are more likely to be influenced by the perception of what their friends are doing, and that anti-smoking campaigns should be more focused on peer relations.
“Rather than saying, ‘Don’t smoke,’ it is better to say, ‘Your friends are listening to this message and not smoking,'” she said. “It doesn’t really matter what their peers are actually doing.”
This is a fantastic embodiment of how everything has a shadow side, even the most well-intentioned efforts.