Goodbye to the Marlboro Man and kewpie-doll beauties with smoke curling through their slender fingers. Arlington public schools aim to crack down on teen-age smoking.
This isn't just any old campaign of locking the bathrooms, policing the halls and posting ghastly photos of blackened lungs. A major part of the lastest program is enlisting peer pressure -- that foible many teens find irresistible.
The program will begin this fall if the County Health Department receives a $92,748 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human services.
Under the proposed program, adult counselors would assist specially trained student volunteers in conducting stop-smoking clinics in high schools and recreation centers. Up to 10,000 adults in Arlington would be asked to sign stop-smoking pledges, and parents would be encouraged to joint county-sponsored discussion groups to learn how they can more effectively prevent cigarette smoking by their children.
Since the U.S. surgeon general's report in 1964 describing the harmful effects of smoking, Arlington schools have been trying to make it more and more difficult for pupils to sneak that first puff.
The rules forbid any student under the age of 16 from smoking at school. Older students can smoke only at specially designated outdoor patios, provided they have written permission from their parents. Any student caught smoking inside school buildings or school buses can be suspended for up to three days.
"At the beginning of the year we send out a letter giving parents information on smoking and asking them to discourage it," said Steve Kurcis, principal of Yorktown High School and a former smoker. "Although we permit smoking, we say we're not in favor of it."
Although national studies show that smoking in all age groups is decreasing -- except among girls ages 16 to 18 -- Arlington shcool officials say they are still having to invent clever ways to make smoking less attractive.
"We used to have a strong anti-smoking emphasis in the seventh and eighth grades," said Bob Gill, health education curriculum specialist. "But we found kids were coming to the seventh grade smoking, so we started stressing this material in fifth and sixth grades."
"I could spend half my time seeking and rooting out smokers in the bathrooms," said Brenda Glenn, assistant principal at Yorktown.
The other day Glenn, who is in charge of the summer school program at Washington and Lee High School, suspended two students smoking inside the building.
On the smoking patio behind the school, about 200 students lit up during a 10-minute break from classes.
"Got a light?" asked a willowy blond student who admitted her parents don't know she smokes.
Another student, 16-year-old Charles Taylor, said he started smoking when he was 10, after his father offered him a cigarette.
Taylor already has been through one anti-smoking campaign: He was caught smoking inside the building and decided to attend an after-school seminar rather than being suspended.
"They show you all these gross films about black lung and people with holes in their throats," he said. "If you're going to quit, it's gonna be you, not any films."
Health educators agree that scare tactics don't work, especially among teen-agers.
"It would be nice if we could tell them things that would make them throw down their cigarettes, but it is more ralistic to get the message across and have them leave as informed smokers," said Robert Solley of the Amercian Lung Association.
Some of the teen-agers seem to be getting the message.In the last stop-smoking clinic offered by the Lung Association, a handful of teen-agers were among the 40 members of the group.
A surgeon general's study in 1979 showed that one-third of students under age 18 smoke, and of the 29.4 percent of high school seniors who use cigarettes daily, 8.9 per cent began smoking in the seventh or eighth grade. A recent survey in Northern Virginia indicated that more than one-fifth of the secondary school population used cigarettes daily.
One goal of the proposed program is to discourage teens from taking up the habit.
"It's not a time for moralizing. It allows at the same time discussion of other issues, such as values, because this is what we are really talking about," said Phyllis Kohlmann, director of the county's alcohol and drug abuse program.
One problem anti-smoking proponents say they must overcome is the example parents and teachers set for students. Many teen-agers say they smoke because their parents do. And in Arlington they know teachers are allowed to smoke in school lounges, which the teen-agers say is unfair since students must go outdoors to smoke, even in cold weather.
"We think the trend in teen-age smoking would decrease if the parents didn't smoke, but it's difficult to overcome as long as the role models do," Gill added.
Glenn, who as acting as summer school principal last week, smoked at her desk after students left, even though that is not an approved smoking area for faculty members.
"I don't thing smoking is a good idea," she siad. "I don't smoke in front of the kids. But I'm not going to change my personal habits."
In the county's health education curriculum, revised last year for the fifth and sixth grades, teachers are provided with innovative techniques for reinforcing a nonsmoking philosophy -- without preaching.
For example, there are excercises to be incorporated into math classes. "If you smoke X packs a day at Y cost, how much would it cost you for cigarettes a day, per week, per year, per lifetime?" one problem asks.
A game modeled after "Jeopardy" lists categories of Alcohol, Tobacco, American History, Commercials and Other Substances. One question under the Tobacco column asks: "What is the drug in cigarettes?" (Answer: Nicotine.)
But teen-agers say it still is tough to kick the habit.
"I started when I was 9 because I thought it would make me look grown-up," said Cindy Thompson, 15, who now smokes half a pack a day. "I've tried to quit but it doesn't work. I know it causes cancer, but it's hard to stop when all your friends smoke."