If it sounds absurd - a video game, costing taxpayers US$3.7 million, that nags people who do dangerous stuff all day long to quit smoking - know that "Escape With Your Life" is surprisingly effective.
Players of the game, a version of which the U.S. Department of Defense recently commissioned, will create a customisable avatar and then take a tour of all the things associated with sucking on a butt - including that people say you suck on a butt and they're technically correct. They move their characters through different themed rooms - "from radiology to accounting" - where they learn about the real costs and effects of smoking.
In a test of smokers aged 15 to 19, the games creator said more than half of 239 who played the game reported quitting afterward.
Of course, that's "reported" quitting. They may have taken it up later; they may have felt guilty and told researchers what they wanted to know.
Time was soldiers got two smokes in a box of C-rations. These days, it presents issues of health, cost, and even fitness for duty, so the Pentagon is spending lots to get troops to either kick the habit or never start. "Escape With Your Life," the military version, will be housed in an arcade-cabinet style kiosk and placed in rec areas to enhance the appeal of playing it.
Smokin' Soldiers: A $3.7 million Videogame Aims to Curb Tobacco Use in the Military [Scientific American (and photo) via VE3D]