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June 27, 2016

Blindness terrifies teens, but few realise link with smoking

Teenagers fear blindness more than lung cancer or stroke, but nine out of 10 don’t know that smoking can rob them of their sight in later life, according to a new study of 260 UK teenagers.
One in five of the young women were daily smokers, compared with around one in seven of the young men. The teens were asked if they knew about the link between smoking and certain diseases, such as stroke, lung cancer, heart disease, and blindness.

They were then asked to rank their fears of each disease. Awareness that smoking caused lung cancer was high, with 81 per cent of respondents recognising the causal link. However, just over one in four realised smoking was linked to heart disease, and only 15 per cent realised that smoking could also lead to stroke. Just five per cent correctly identified that smoking can also cause blindness.
Nine out of 10 of the teens said they would give up smoking at the first signs of blindness, prompting the authors to suggest that public health messages about smoking which are aimed at teens, should include the risks of blindness.