Smoking...Hazardous to Your Health and Smoking...Kicking the Habit
Why Kids Smoke and Dangers of Smoking
Fresh Start: 21 Days to Stop Smoking
Dying For a Smoke
Hey, Do I Need a Cigarette!
Saying No to Smoking
How to Avoid Weight Gain When You Stop Smoking
Tobacco: The Follower's Habit
Smoking: Everything You and Your Family Need to Know
Title: Smoking...Hazardous to Your Health and Smoking...Kicking the Habit
Produced by KERA-TV Published by PBS Video
Part of the "Here's to Your Health" series on PBS, the video is oriented toward educating viewers through a series of interviews with notable health care professionals. Hosted by Dr. John Houseman, a series of discussions are included that describe the dangers of smoking, both to the cardiovascular and pulmonary systems as well as presenting information regarding the decrease in life expectancy that is secondary to smoking. Split into two halves, the first half of the video focuses on health consequences after having smoked cigarettes for several years. The second half of the video emphasizes preventative education for young people. Somewhat dry in its delivery, and containing a considerable amount of technical terminology to convey physiological consequences, it is unlikely that the video is geared toward the general public. Although the information presented is informative and chilling in its implications for a current smoker as well as for someone contemplating beginning smoking, the lack of emotional content robs the video of making a visceral impact. The video is recommended for educational settings for high school and above. In addition, for those of you who are trying to quit but need to know concrete facts and figures about exactly how smoking cigarettes damages your body, this video can provide you with that information. If you are looking for an encouraging, inspiring motivational message, you may find this video to be lacking.
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Title: Why Kids Smoke and Dangers of Smoking
Producer: Schlessinger Media
Two videos in the Smoking: Somebody Stop Me series geared toward educating young people regarding the dangers of cigarette smoking. Both videos are filmed as a debate between two young people, "Teen" and "Nico". "Teen" is an earnest young man, intent on helping his friend Nico to quit smoking, while Nico is a misguided teenager who begins the debate as the "cool rebel", providing superficial arguments in support of smoking. Although the dialogue between Teen and Nico is rather thin and transparent (even to the young audience the films are targeting), the numerous cut scenes composed of animation and fictional interviews are entertaining and informative. Surprisingly, the best part of the videos involves an ingenious rap message that covers everything from nicotine addiction to carcinogen (just try to think of words that rhyme with that!). Both videos are very similar in content with the only significant differences being the vocabulary and ending (in the video aimed at younger viewers, Nico decides to quit smoking while in the 4th to 6th grader video, the ending is left unresolved). Although many young people may find the videos to be somewhat hokey, the message is clear and put into language that is readily comprehensible.
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Title: Fresh Start: 21 Days to Stop Smoking
Produced: American Cancer Society Length: 75 minutes
One of the most impressive video-based smoking cessation programs available today. The American Cancer Society has created a 21-day program for smoking cessation that is both focused and holistic. Hosted by a very sincere Robert Klein, the video is well paced and can stand up to repeated viewings. Comprehensive in scope, the Fresh Start video covers gradual reduction and cold turkey methods of quitting smoking in addition to relaxation techniques, behavioral reinforcement and thought stopping. Composed of 21 segments, one segment for each day of the program, the viewer is lead step-by-step through the cessation progress with helpful hints as well as educational segments designed to normalize the symptoms of withdrawal and increase efficacy. Not without out its short-comings, the video includes little information about the dangers of smoking and thereby provides little fear-motivation (although research suggests that fear of health problems is one of the least effective motivators for long-term cessation), occasionally reverts to old-school thinking of "failure to quit is due to lack of desire" and suggests that weight-gain is uncommon (current research suggests that the average ex-smoker gains 7 to 11 pounds when quitting). However, the Fresh Start Program from the American Cancer Society is one of the most outstanding and complete smoking cessations programs available to date.
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Title: Dying For a Smoke
Produced by: Bill Riead Publisher: Xenon Entertainment Group
Length: 60 minutes
Less of a how-to-quit smoking video and more of a documentary of the battle between tobacco companies and the American public's health interests, Dying for a Smoke is a powerful look into the staggering cost (both in finances and in humane concerns) of smoking cigarettes. Disturbing facts regarding cigarette and tobacco use are presented throughout this hour-long video, as well as a series of interviews with celebrities (i.e. Charlton Heston, Chuck Norris, Gregory Hines, etc.). Some of the facts and figures brought up in the video include the $100 billion dollar annual sales of tobacco related products (yes, $100 billion dollars, an almost unimaginable number) as well as 419,000 annual deaths as well. The video's writer and producer, Bill Riead does an excellent job of making these numbers (so large, they become abstract to the average viewer) become concrete and having the jarring influence they deserve. For example, the video states that the death toll due to cigarettes was the same as "...if two jumbo jets collided and killed everyone on board every day of the year." Socrates is credited for saying that a thing on to itself is an unknown, to be known it must be presented in relation to something else. Dying for a Smoke relates most of the horrifying information into readily accessible images and facts, thereby having a greater influence on the viewer. Not for the faint of heart, the video brings you to a convention of ex-smokers who have had their vocal cords removed secondary to throat cancer (actually not all the attendants were ex-smokers; some who never smoked but lived with smokers for 20+ years, or were current smokers), includes tearful interviews with individuals who have lost loved-ones due to smoking and contains a surprising segment with two former cigarette models who related their previous experiences and current views on the tobacco industry in well-formed and articulated arguments. Lastly, the video also includes a historical review of the U.S. Government's unflattering acceptance of one of the most profitable and dangerous commerce products every sold. Although research in the field of quitting smoking general concludes that fear, although a powerful motivator, is generally not a solid predictor of long-term abstinence, watching this video is strongly recommended by this reviewer. I suggest viewing both the American Cancer Society's Fresh Start: 21 Days to Stop Smoking (see review above) and Dying for a Smoke as a powerful one-two punch in your quest to quit smoking.
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Title: Hey, Do I Need a Cigarette!
Produced: American Lung Association of Nebraska
Length: 15 minutes Produced: Kennedy Media Company
The first fully animated video reviewed on this site, Hey, Do I Need a Cigarette! Is a short film that doesn't seem to be aimed at any particular age group. Since it is brief and a cartoon, one would assume it is aimed at younger viewers. Indeed, one of the characters is a child who begs money from strangers to pay for his cigarette habit and then tearfully returns later in the film to report that both his mother and father (from whom he learned to smoke) have dangerous and possibly terminal illnesses as a result of their own cigarette use. In addition, most of the periodic breaks in the film (every 3 minutes or so the screen underscores the dialogue by highlighting the main points and adding new information) are written for an audience in their teen years or younger. However, several scenes seemed inappropriate for younger viewers. For example, the "hero" of the story goes to a bar and offers cigarettes as a way to come on to an attractive woman, including dropping his pack on the floor, looking up her skirt and telling her how attractive she is! Furthermore, later in the film the main character is "seduced" back into smoking by a dancing cigarette box with legs (reminiscent of 1950's advertisements) who clings to our hero and repeatedly calls him "Daddy". It seems as if the writers of this video were confused about who the program was designed for; too many adult themes and situations for children and too transparent and corny for teenagers. Although the video does cover a variety of topics related to smoking (i.e. illnesses, changes in weight, different methods for quitting smoking, etc.) the confused target market and lack of any genuinely likeable character makes this a lack-luster production at best. For younger viewers, the Why Kids Smoke and Dangers of Smoking videos are far more enjoyable, more focused on content and are more contemporary.
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Title: Stop Smoking
Length: 20 minutes Written by: Joan Milton, Ph.D.
Part of the Self-Help Clinic Series, the video Stop Smoking is divided into three parts. The first part of the video is composed of an introduction by Dr. Milton who outlines the purpose of the video as well as the recommended schedule for repeated viewing. Dr. Milton emphasizes that the purpose of the video is not to provide fear-motivating material concerning the dangers of smoking, but instead focuses on making quitting appear appealing and achievable. The second part of the video is a relaxation and guided imagery exercise with an emphasis on positive self-statements the viewer is encouraged to repeat to himself or herself. Dr. Milton suggests watching this section of the video everyday for 6 weeks. The last part of the video is a narrative by Dr. Milton who discusses a wide variety of smoking-related topics including different methods to quit (i.e. cold turkey, gradual reduction), changes in diet (drinking 8 glasses of water/fruit juice a day) as well as several practical and helpful suggestions such as buying cigarettes by the pack instead of the carton and writing down when you smoke to find "weak points" in your quitting smoking plan. In addition, Dr. Milton's suggestions regarding environmental controls, such as creating designated smoking and non-smoking areas in your home and work-place, and cognitive re-framing guidelines are well thought-out and are some of the strongest parts of the video. One of the few drawbacks of the video is the low production value. Shot almost entirely from one angle and with little or no background music, the video does at times become dull (more than once I had to hit rewind during the first and second parts). Although the video is not comprehensive enough to be a stand-alone program for many smokers (no references to medications, using support systems, etc.), when combined with other programs such as Fresh Start and Dying for a Smoke, Stop Smoking is well worth viewing.
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Title: Saying No to Smoking
Producer: Live Wire Video
Length: 28 minutes
Part of the You Can Choose series, Saying No to Smoking has a preventative focus regarding smoking and younger children. The program is hosted by comedian Michael Pritchard, who expertly balances an over-the-top, almost cartoon-like delivery with warm, caring and sincerity. The video is broken down into several discrete segments including a filmed school assembly, group interviews with children about their ideas on and experiences with cigarettes. The group interviews come across as earnest and candid, with a valuable emphasis on the desire of children to be popular and "fit in". OFten this desire to be accepted is working on children without them even being aware of their motivations. Far from a lack of education regarding the dangers of cigarette use, (as evidenced by the startlingly adult responses of the children regarding cancer, lung disease, emphysema, etc.), most of the children reported their interest in smoking as a form of rebellion, a bonding experience with friends or as an attempt to elevate their social standing. The school assembly sections of the video include a charming play between Missy Mouse and Rhonda Bird. The actresses who fill these roles are quite talented and the characters become immediately likable. They deliver a powerful message regarding peer pressure, role modeling and ways for children to say no to smoking while maintaining the relationships they value. In addition, the play underscores the importance of encouraging smoking friends to quit. With polished editing, strong acting and likeable characters, this video can be watched by children alone, or with parents and teachers, and will be enjoyed by all.
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Title: How to Avoid Weight Gain When You Stop Smoking
Length: 24 minutes
As the title suggests, this video completely focuses on aiding recent ex-smokers from gaining weight, an all too frequent occurrence following quitting smoking. Written and presented in a straight-forward manner, a multitude of common-sense interventions are presented for a variety of settings including eating at home, at a restaurant, at a party or at a friend's house. Although no tips or suggestions are given for quitting smoking, that is not the focus of the program. Instead, a helpful and detailed guide is offered which includes so many excellent tips to avoid weight gain that the average viewer will come away with several pages of "notes to self" for behavioral changes, cognitive re-framing, and environmental changes. Included at the end of the video is a list of myths regarding quitting smoking and weight gain, as well as factual information debunking these commonly-believed, but erroneous ideas. Repeated viewings are recommended, as the amount of information contained in the video is quite high and some technical terminology is present in the beginning. Overall, this video is highly recommended for individuals who are planning to stop smoking but have significant concerns regarding putting on pounds after quitting (be careful not to 'overload" yourself with too much at one time, as quitting smoking alone requires a lot of attention/concentration and learning new skills and behaviors and should be your first priority) as well as for folks who have quit smoking one to two months ago and their new skills are more automatic (thereby allowing them focus more effort on not gaining weight).
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Title: Secondhand Smoke
Length: 16 minutes
Produced: Pyramid Films
A melodramatic video that emphasizes the dangers of secondhand smoke. I'm going to break from a straight-forward video review here to express a point that I feel very strongly about. Although the dangers of secondhand and side-stream smoke are considerable and represent a very real threat to the health and well being to those exposed to this toxic pollutant, Secondhand Smoke takes a comedic view of the topic, depicted smoking companies as 'mad scientist' types trying to deliberately create the most destructive substance they can in order to harm as many people as possible. This view of the tobacco industry, as a classic black hat wearing, moustache twisting villain, is not only inaccurate, but also masks the true depth of the outrage cigarette companies have perpetrated. History is likely to view cigarette companies as one of the most blatant examples of an entire industry placing wealth and materialism over human life and welfare. At the bottom line, the tobacco industry has spent billions of dollars encouraging people to use an addictive and lethal substance which has a plethora of negative consequences not only to the smoker, but to those around him or her and the nation as a whole. It's not a matter of tobacco companies being ran by "evil" people as depicted in this video. Instead, the truth is far more disturbing. Cigarette companies employ everyday citizens who have become, for a variety of reasons, so removed from the life-ending consequences of their products that they willingly and whole-heartedly pursue their "work" like all other goal-oriented individuals. I, like many millions of other Americans, work hard at my job. I look for new ways to do my job in better, more efficient and more effective ways. Cigarette company employees do the same. The difference is the product of cigarette companies have wrecked havoc, death and destruction on a level that is unparalleled. And although there are many good points to this video (see below), by reducing the tobacco industry to a crude, shallow caricature, the magnitude of wrongs committed daily, indeed hourly, by cigarette companies is lost.
Now that I've gotten that off my chest, I can get back to the review. Jack Klugman provides wonderful narration to the video. Dignified and sensitive, he conveys the gravity of the topic with a deft delivery. In addition, the video also includes several examples of humorous depictions of secondhand smoke as a way to make the dangers concrete and easily conceptualized. The video is recommended for people trying to quit smoking and could use the added motivation of knowing they are putting friends, family and co-workers at risk by continued smoking. In addition, family members of individuals attempting to quit smoking may also benefit from reviewing the video together so that the many benefits of quitting are known by everyone in the household.
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Title: Tobacco: The Follower's Habit
Length: 10 minutes
Produced: March Films
Narrated by Art Linkletter, Tobacco: The Follower's Habit is a short video aimed at teen-aged viewers. Focusing on educational information to prevent beginning smoking, the video depicts a variety of hazards of smoking cigarettes, including shots of unhealthy lungs and cancer growths. With a broad range of areas covered in this brief video, some sacrifices in depth of commentary were made in order to accommodate the scope of content. Consequently, much of the educational information in the video is presented in summary "sound bites", including such topics as the dangerous contents of cigarette smoke, the limited functionality of cigarette filters, rising frequency of no-smoking laws and bans on cigarette advertising. The target market for this video is similarly wide in scope. As mentioned above, the video is primarily geared toward teen-aged viewers with a repeated anti-peer pressure message (i.e. smoking is the follower's habit, cigarette smoking isn't cool, etc.) but also has some technical information for an older audience. In terms of recommended use for this video, it would appear to have limited utility. Specifically, without any suggestions, tips or programming for quitting smoking, Tobacco: The Follower's Habit isn't particularly useful for current smokers trying to quit. Furthermore, the expressions, phrasing and clothing styles of the actors may be too dated for today's teenagers to readily identify with. As for who this video is recommended for, it's broad scope and brief length help to recommend this video for high school and adult health educational programs when limited time is the primary consideration. If longer periods of time are available, other videos reviewed on this page are more complete and comprehensive.
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Title: Smoking: Everything You and Your Family Need to Know
Length: 60 minutes
Produced: Abrose Video Publishing Inc.
Geared for the family of someone who is attempting to quit smoking, Smoking: Everything You and Your Family Need to Know is a comprehensive examination of smoking cigarettes on both a socioeconomic and individual humanitarian level. Beginning with a review of old cigarette ads from print and television (including many ads that are now banned), the bold and aggressive machinations of the tobacco industry are put under scrutiny. Although today's cigarette ads are subtle and emphasize a "lifestyle" (most new print ads for cigarettes not only don't show anyone smoking, they often don't even have cigarettes pictured or mentioned anywhere in them!), advertisements from the 50's and 60's were much more direct and focused. The video includes television commercials with 'doctors' recommending cigarettes for sore throats and to "prevent that smoked-out feeling"! For myself, as someone who grew up in the 70's and 80's and can't remember ever having seen a cigarette ad on television, it was startling to see old clips of Lucille Ball telling women to give "your man a cigarette, it's an easy way to keep him happy" or Charelton Heston saying "I don't know about all the scientific studies supporting smoking, I just know it's great mellow flavor suits me". After watching this video, it becomes clearer than ever why so many people began smoking before the plethora of information regarding the lethal nature of tobacco use was made readily available. The video also spends considerable time examining and de-bunking the many rationalization smokers have to not quitting. Previous Surgeon General Copeland responds to many myths about quitting smoking as well as reviewing the staggering statistics of deaths and illness associated with smoking cigarettes. Finally, the video includes a touching mini-documentary about Tom Owens, a 57 year-old man diagnosed with cancer after having smoked for 40 years. Candid interviews with Mr. Owens and his wife give the viewer a chance to see real-word consequences of cigarette use for both the smoker and his or her family members. Be prepared for some emotional responses after having watched this section of the video. The documentary doesn't pull many punches; i.e. interviews with Mr. Owen's physicians (including reviewing his x-rays), making arrangements with a health care provider for DNR order (Do Not Resuscitate orders that patients sign as a proactive measure to prevent themselves from receiving specific types of care to prolong life), and medication schedules of morphine to control the high levels of pain associated with malignant cancer of the lungs. I was particularly moved by this section of the video as well as being impressed by Mr. and Mrs. Owens' courage and generosity to allow a film crew to tape the last few months of Mr. Owens' life. For most of us, we only get a glimpse of these issues when it's too late for ourselves or our loved-ones. The Owens' gracious gesture allows viewers a chance to observe the trauma and tragedy that so often accompanies cigarette use hopefully before it's too late. Although this video does not include a program for quitting smoking (other videos reviewed on this page provide wonderful quitting programs), the hard-hitting facts and emotional component of the suffering associated with cigarette use is likely to be helpful to individuals who want more motivation to quit. Furthermore, having the whole family view the video together is recommended as it helps to focus their efforts to aid the soon-to-be ex-smoker.
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