Smoking simulator app a concern for local health educators

Published On: Nov 29 2012 11:54:19 PM CST   Updated On: Nov 30 2012 03:24:07 PM CST
LA CROSSE, Wis. -

Health officials are warning parents about a smoking simulator readily available on many smartphones.

More than 100 apps are available that allow anyone to pretend they are smoking.

Researchers say about six-million people have already downloaded one or more of the apps on their phone, and warn that it's becoming a powerful marketing tool for tobacco companies.

That has health officials worried it will lead to unhealthy choices. "It's very easy to make that next step then to that cigarette, it does away with all the messaging we've been trying to do to de-normalize tobacco and cigarette smoking," said La Crosse Co. health educator Judi Zabel.

Health experts say the best thing parents can do is talk to their kids about smoking and the messages the apps can send.