CD-ROM Game Prevents Children's Tobacco Use

Period of Performance: 09/15/2001 - 03/14/2002

$100K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Compact Disc, Inc.
Silver Spring, MD 20905
Principal Investigator

Abstract

DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Tobacco use is responsible for almost 400,000 deaths each year from heart disease, cancer, pulmonary disease and stroke. Smoking and smokeless tobacco use starts at an early age and by high school, over 70 percent of all students have used tobacco. Research shows many life skills and attitudes are learned early in life; thus, significant efforts should be placed on developing an anti-tobacco lifestyle in children. Since children are more adaptable to changes than adults, and because prevention is more beneficial than treatment, we believe pre-adolescents are the ideal recipients of an interactive game, which requires and inspires the players to be anti-tobacco practitioners. Early use and frequency are powerful predictors of late, continues tobacco use. Because the average onset age is 14, the highly addictive practice of smoking is classified as a 'pediatric medical disorder' and once established it is arguably more difficult to stop than to prevent its onset. Termination of established tobacco use is notoriously difficult; thus, prevention of use before habituation is considered a worthwhile goal. We propose to develop an innovative, engaging and entertaining CD-ROM (and Web-based in Phase II) action-trivia game to deliver awareness, information and alternative strategies to resist tobacco use in children aged 9-13. The multi-player game, through engaging trivia challenges, will be developmentally appropriate and provide: awareness of the dangers of tobacco use, exposure to attitudes and values which discourage tobacco use, problem solving skills and alternative behaviors to help young people avoid tobacco use. The major goal of phase I is to demonstrate by field research that the target audience will, in fact, engage willingly and enthusiastically in an age-appropriate interactive anti-tobacco trivia game. Phase II will test the sustainable anti-tobacco use effects of the game intervention over time. We have reason to believe that such a breakthrough game will find a large audience in Phase III. PROPOSED COMMERCIAL APPLICATION: NOT AVAILABLE