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Young Smokers: Rebellion, Conformity and Imitation

Velma McClellan

'The more socially unacceptable smoking becomes in adult society the more attractive it appears to the younger generation'. This was the comment of a South Auckland intermediate school principal whose school I visited during a nation-wide Health Department survey of Form One (Year 6) students' smoking. On the affluent northern shores of metropolitan Auckland, I again became aware of an air of pessimistic despondency. 'Girls today know more than we knew about the ill-effects of smoking yet they are taking it up in greater numbers than ever before', said the principal of a large single-sex girls' school.
Generally speaking, principals and teachers were optimistic about the benefits of school-based smoking intervention programmes, but while the pessimists were in the minority, their viewpoints did nevertheless contain an element of truth.

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