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Global anti-smoking initiative centres on poor oral health

A new initiative has been launched to deter young people from taking up smoking, by highlighting the detrimental effect it has on their teeth and general oral health.

The campaign is supported by the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) World Cancer Report, which reveals that new cancer cases are set to rise by 57 per cent over the next 20 years, with lung cancer making up 13 per cent of all cases.

Though the report notes that pollution is set to play a key role in the rise, it observes that reducing smoking rates would have a significant impact on the figure, with the best way of achieving this being through preventing the young people of today from becoming tomorrow’s smokers.

Though the impact on the lungs, heart, blood vessels and brain will all be focused on in the campaign, a key focal point will be the detrimental effect that smoking has on a person’s appearance, ranging from their complexion to their teeth, gums, tongue and breath.

A series of memorable ads has already been created by the Food and Drug Administration, which depicts a young person rapidly ageing due to the effects of smoking – something that will hopefully be more effective than lecturing people, explained Mitch Zeller, from the FDA’s Centre for Tobacco Products.

“We’re targeting 12 to 17-year-olds who are at risk. They’re vulnerable, they lead very chaotic and stressful lives. And they’re turning to cigarettes for all the wrong reasons; we have messages that can change that,” he explained to CNN.

“These are very difficult to reach kids, [who are] open to smoking but closed to lectures. But if you talk to them about health consequences like wrinkling skin, and losing teeth, they pay attention to that.”

According to the Surgeon General, although smoking among adults has fallen in recent years, more than two million people under 25 were smoking in 2012 compared with ten years before – a problem reflected around the globe and one that health authorities will seek to tackle in the months and years ahead.

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