PHOENIX — According to the Arizona Department of Health, Arizona’s teen smoking rate is down by 12 percent in the last couple of years.
Teen smoking rates nationwide have generally stayed the same. Social-media campaigns like the ones from Venomocity and Students Taking a New Direction (STAND) are among the reasons for Arizona’s success.
“They are very helpful because they are informative, they are visual, and the kids can see it and imagine they are in the shoes of the youth they see on that video,” said Clyde Miller, youth coordinator for Tanner Community Development Corp., a teen support center in Phoenix.
Miller helps teens kick the habit, and said websites and social media are becoming the most powerful weapons in that fight. He said the websites let teens interact with each other and give each other support even if they live miles away.
The websites also benefit peer counselors. Janea Crum, 15, helps organize conferences and presentations to help teens stop smoking, but she said the Internet can be more effective than a face-to-face approach.
“They go on [the websites] on their own time, which signifies that they really want to stop smoking and they really want to get help. It doesn’t make it such a public issue,” said Crum.
Both Crum and Miller said one of the more effective tools found on the websites are videos of teens who have quit smoking.