FDA Center for Tobacco

Smoking is bad. Smoking may eventually kill you. Then everyone says in unison “duh”. This is not new information – we all know smoking is not good for our health. So why are 19% of U.S. adults current cigarette smokers? Maybe it started as peer pressure, stress relief, a social event, etc. everyone’s story is different. I personally have never been a smoker so I don’t know firsthand what it’s like to have that addiction and what it would take for me to quit.

Non-smoking has begun to make a positive shift. It’s no longer “cool” to smoke, and actually a lot of people look down upon it. Heck it’s hard enough to find a public place that you are permitted to smoke in or around anymore. And smoking can be a deal breaker for a relationship or even a job.

I would love to help smokers quit smoking but I just don’t see that as a realistic goal unless they are motivated to change themselves. That is why I want the FDA to use Facebook Open Graph capabilities to prevent younger people and teens from ever starting to smoke.

Social gaming is popular- In the US alone over 100 million people play on social networks. Zynga has more than 220 million active users each month. I think the FDA can create a game that is compelling enough for it’s audience of impressionable teens to come back everyday.

To have a broader appeal I suggest that two games be developed:

Game one: Sims Social mixed with Farmville (Or something similar) This game would allow people to play out virtual lives. Here’s the catch, you have to keep your avatar healthy. So just like harvesting your crop every six hours, you have to take your person on a walk, or some other form of physical activity. There could also be a healthy food option where they have to eat so many fruit and veggies throughout the day. If you do not keep your avatar healthy and in a timely manner they will be forced to smoke a cigarette. The more cigarette they have to smoke the less points, money, purchasing power, etc they have.

Game two: A sci-fi game or virtual fighting game. This game takes on the same idea as above but when you lose a fight your character will  have to smoke a cigarette. Smoking a cigarette in this game will also have negative effects whether it slower reactions times or stamina in your next fight, point reductions, less medal’s earned, etc.

Smoking in the US has been on a slow but steady decline, maybe by utilize social gaming we can speed up that decline.