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Teenagers are much more inclined to take warnings about steroids seriously if the drugs’ muscle-building benefits are acknowledged in the same speech, say doctors at Oregon Health Sciences University. That was the case when the doctors lectured nine high school football teams on the effects of steroids. They found that football players who heard a balanced presentation on steroids were 50 percent more likely to believe that the drugs could harm their health than those who were told just of the dangers.

This isn’t the only instance where scare tactics have been known to fail. In spite of a massive, ongoing campaign on the hazards of cigarette smoking, millions continue to light up. Health experts might be more successful if they acknowledged smoking’s pleasurable aspects. Then once they had a smoker’s attention, they could let loose on why it’s time to quit.

Spokesman Review, 11-13-91, p. C1

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