Botswana’s teenagers continue to impress with an overwhelmingly strong sense of support for their non-smoking peers. Nearly 450 young teenagers from across the country have shown their support through sending their very own “I don’t” selfies to date, whilst over 100 teenagers participated in recent activations as part of the viral #MostTeens campaign. Teens continue to flood the campaign’s Facebook and Twitter platforms with images and posts celebrating the positive social choices of Botswana’s teens.
“Too cool to smoke!” said teenager Neo Thobo Pule Mohiemang, while Rhym Wa'Lehipi Motshabi proudly proclaims “I don’t and I won’t.” The campaign, based upon research conducted through the University of Botswana in February 2014, focuses on teenagers aged between 13 and 15 years, based in Gaborone and Francistown. It works to correct the misconception among this age group that smoking cigarettes is the social norm among their peers.
Dr. Bontle Mbongwe of the University of Botswana’s School of Public Health and lead researcher on the project said: “The perception that majority of teens have that many of their age mates smoke is a flawed one, as evidenced by the data. Although only 10.8% of respondents are current smokers, the majority of adolescents (61%) believe that most people their age smoke. 64% believe that people their age feel pressure to try smoking cigarettes.”
Social behaviour is so easily influenced by a variety of factors, and amongst youth in particular, it is easy to make social choices based on what you perceive to be the norm. Thus, the decision to begin smoking, or even simply to try it out, is higher if you believe majority of your friends or those you believe to be the “cool kids” are smokers.
#MostTeens highlights the fact that smoking is not a normal activity in this age group, thus working to empower Botswana’s teenagers to continue to make positive social choices in this regard. Even beyond the teenage demographic, Batswana continue to show tremendous support in celebrating the positive findings as part of the #MostTeens movement. Those keen to show support are encouraged to join the conversation on social media: @most_teens Twitter page and via Facebook at www.facebook.com/MostTeens.