Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Trying to Light Fire under Smoking Teens

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Trying to Light Fire under Smoking Teens

Article excerpt

HBO and Consumer Reports team up tonight for a half-hour special on cigarettes that's pointed, funny, scary and sadly unlikely to persuade many teen-agers to stop smoking.

"Smoke Alarm: The Unfiltered Truth About Cigarettes" (6 tonight on HBO) has cute cartoons, skits and a mock game show, but all are vehicles for frightening facts - 3,000 teens a day start smoking; 1,000 will die as a result.

More frightening than the statistics, though, are the comments from cynical, fatalistic real-life teens, who say things like, "We know what's going to happen to us. We choose to keep smoking." Smoking makes them high, some say. Or it calms them down. Many say they'll stop - eventually. "When I'm 20. Or 21." "I'm not addicted," a girl insists. "I could quit if I wanted to." Unlikely. As another girl says, "I've tried to quit six times in the last five months." Call me cynical and fatalistic, too. But a teen-ager who would watch "Smoke Alarm" and be impressed by what it has to say is probably a teen who doesn't smoke anyway. Young nicotine addicts seem far more likely to feel invincible, or at least unconcerned. ("We're all gonna die sometime. Might as well have fun.") But there's hope nonetheless. The average age to start smoking is a shocking 14 1/2, the special reports. So young teens and pre-teens may still get the "Smoke Alarm" message. Ted Danson, after "Cheers" and before "Ink," played a monster-hunting scientist in "Loch Ness," a 1995 fantasy-drama that makes its belated debut at 7 p.m. Saturday on Channel 30. The movie, although produced for theatrical release, never made the big screen, and the reasons are obvious. "Loch Ness" has five minutes of action and five minutes of charm; unfortunately, it's two hours long. Danson plays Dr. Jonathan Dempsey, a broke, broken-down, burned-out professor who's just spent three years chasing Bigfoot. Now his boss offers a last chance to redeem his reputation: Go to Scotland and prove that the Loch Ness Monster doesn't exist. On site, the grumpy professor spends a lot of time circling the lake in a boat, looking at murky pictures from the deep. I watched a good half of "Loch Ness" on fast-forward and, believe me, I didn't miss a thing. …

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