San Diego Science Center Offers Interactive Anti-Smoking Exhibit
The Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in San Diego's Balboa Park has begun a three-part anti-smoking campaign targeting teens and young adults, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. Funded by a $641,000 grant from the state Department of Health's Tobacco Control Unit, which receives money from the national tobacco settlement, the campaign relies "heavily" on computers and virtual reality technology. The first stage of the campaign, which has been available on on the Fleet Web site for 12 months, is a package of six interactive computer games called "Sucked In." The second stage, set to begin in early April, is a virtual reality installation called "Smoke and Mirrors." Participants in the presentation will have their faces electronically scanned and placed on "computer-generated bodies" of a scientist, tobacco industry executive, advertising figure or convenience store owner in order to "interact in a real-time, role-playing game." According to Sheldon Brown, the game's developer and the director of the Center for Research in Computing and the Arts at the University of California-San Diego, the object of the game is to demonstrate the "biological effect" and the "sociological and cultural influences" of tobacco on society. The third phase of the exhibit, which will be available April 11, is art work that contains the message "lies ... big tobacco is selling." The Fleet Science Center plans to reproduce the art on 100,000 T-shirts and "other give-away items." According to the Union-Tribune, the campaign may be a "departure" from the Fleet Center's usual goal of "explaining science and technology." However, Lynne Kennedy, director of education and exhibits at the Fleet Center, said she "doesn't see [the campaign] as a political statement." Kennedy added, "We're talking about health-related issues. There are a lot of poisons in tobacco that people don't know about" (Steinberg, San Diego Union-Tribune, 3/26).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.