Quitting smoking has become a game. In fact, it’s a video game. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the largest U.S. public health body, recently launched a horror video game to raise awareness and terrorize teenagers about the dangers of nicotine. An original idea, perhaps effective, that in the U.S. is, however, causing discussion among legions of clinicians, between those who are enthusiastic and those who do not approve of the methodology certainly unconventional. We talked about it with Dr. Licia Vanessa Siracusano, oncologist at Humanitas, on the occasion of World No Tobacco Day 2019, which is celebrated today.
A video game to quit smoking: it’s free and already available on Xbox and PC.
It’s called “One Leaves” and it’s already a free video game available for Xbox and PC Windows 10. The banality of the plot (a group of characters trapped in a maze full of traps and puzzles from which only one of the players can eventually save himself) would certainly not have helped to make it popular. But the fact that its production was requested by the Food and Drug Administration of the United States of America, the body that deals with the regulation of drugs and food, to convince adolescents to stop smoking, has already made it a case of international news. For the US agency, this is a new way to discourage young people from using harmful substances such as nicotine and tobacco or, even better, not to start with this vice at all, eliminating the problem at its root.
The teenagers more and more victims of addictions
In Italy almost one in four high school students smokes: according to an international study published in Plos One, in Europe since 1990 the spread of tobacco vice among adolescents has increased by 50% in the age group between 11 and 15 years. This is a dramatic increase, to say the least, that the ineffective awareness-raising campaigns, as suggested by other international studies, have not been able to counteract. Hence the idea of a more original approach, such as the creation of a video game. The approach chosen by “One Leaves” is more intriguing than all the “educational” video games that preceded it: up to the final screen, it is by no means clear that it is an educational game and the messages it sends to the gamer are much more subliminal. Symbolically the maze represents the vice of smoking, the fact that only one in four players can get out is a reference to the statistics that three out of four teenagers continue to smoke even as adults and the difficulty of running of their character within the game is related to lung damage caused by smoking and so on. It all takes place in 15 minutes. The trailer was curated by Darren Aronofsky, a director who won the Golden Lion of Venice. The social experiment is underway. To judge now all that’s left is to wait for the results.
Quitting smoking: the free screening program at Humanitas
“Smoking is one of the main risk factors for heart attack or atherosclerosis – said Dr. Striuli, explaining that the Humanitas SMAC anti-smoking screening program, aimed at subjects over 50 years of age, provides for the execution of certain tests including coronary CT and spirometry, for the detection of cardiovascular risk and early diagnosis of emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) -. The low-dose CT scan of the thorax allows to calculate the degree of calcification of the coronary arteries, which is directly proportional to the risk of heart attack or stenosis of the coronary arteries. With the screening we can therefore also arrive at an assessment of the cardiovascular risk of participants in the program and, if necessary, direct them to cardiological controls for prevention or changes in lifestyles and / or treatments with preventive therapies (statins). “With the dosage in the blood of some proteins related to inflammation and with spirometry, which evaluates the functioning of the lung, together with data on the presence or absence of emphysema pictures shown by the CT, we can assess the presence of COPD – also stressed Dr. Francesca Puggioni, pneumologist of the Center for Personalized Medicine Asthma and Allergies of Humanitas – thus anticipating the treatment reducing chronic disability”.
How to participate?
To be included in the Humanitas screening program you can contact the number 02 82247371, fill in the online form or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.