Primary Care Interventions Prevent Tobacco Use in Children and Adolescents, Study


More than teachers, parents and friends, children and teens may consider quitting their smoking habit if they are counseled by their doctors, says U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF).

 The conclusion of the prominent panel has been published with new suggestions in two medical journals, the Annals of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics.

According to the panel, kids are less likely to embrace the smoking habit if they are told about its deadly consequences from their doctors or other health care providers.

"We didn't recommend any particular intervention, because a variety of things seem to help," said David Grossman, a panel member and a pediatrician and researcher at the Group Health Research Institute and the University of Washington-Seattle. "The important thing is that the message is coming from a physician and that's an important voice ... even to kids."

The report says 'even very minimal interventions,' such as primary care office providing education or issuing prevention guides to parents and kids could help reduce tobacco use in children and adolescents.

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of 2011, about 18 percent of high school students and 4 percent of middle school students were smokers.

Michael Steinberg, an internist who leads a tobacco dependence program at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, New Brunswick, N.J., said that although these figures are reducing every year, one out of five teens still finish high school as smokers.

"We need to do everything we can to reduce a young person's opportunity to try their first cigarette or to go from experimenting to becoming addicted," Steinberg said.

The panel arrived at the conclusion after analyzing the influence of primary care interventions - whether they were successful in stopping children from starting the habit or breaking the bad habit. They also studied its health outcomes such as respiratory health, dental and oral health, and adult smoking.'

The USPSTF found satisfactory evidence that behavioral counseling interventions, such as direct or phone communication with a health care provider, print materials, and computer applications, can prevent significant smoking initiation in school-aged children and adolescents.

The panel concludes that 'primary care-relevant behavioral interventions' on tobacco use in school-aged children and adolescents showed 'moderate net benefit.'

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