Teen Smokers Need Help in Kicking the Habit
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Many teen smokers try to kick the habit early on, but they generally don't succeed until their 30s. Teenaged smokers may need specially tailored treatments that can help them quit smoking, report researchers from the National I
``By age 17, one half of smokers have tried to quit and failed, two thirds regret ever having started, and nearly 40% express interest in some form of treatment for tobacco dependence,'' report Dr. Eric T. Moolchan and colleagues in the June issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
Those findings are from a 1994 study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, note the researchers, who analyzed dozens of studies on teenage smoking published over the last 20 years.
They conclude that more effort is needed to find out why teens start smoking and find specific ways that help them kick the habit.
``As approaches to adult smoking cessation expand, our commitment to the long-term health of children must prompt youth-targeted interventions aimed at cessation or long term-reduction of smoking, as well as prevention of smoking initiation,'' they write. One study of 18-year old smokers who wanted to quit showed that cost (52%), health (52%), fitness (27%), unacceptable/bad image (16%) or social pressure (11%).were important reasons for wanting to give up the habit. Not surprisingly, peer pressure is a strong influence on teenage smoking, especially among high-school students. After that, they note that parental smoking and family conflicts are the most significant predictors of the transition from occasional to regular smoking. A study of 11- to 13-year olds found that 75% of kids who smoked had one or two parents who smoked. The earlier teens start smoking, the more severe their nicotine addiction will be, according to the study authors.
They note that the rate of teenage smoking is on the rise--36.4% of high school students in 1997 smoked compared with 27.5% in 1991--despite price hikes and other measures designed to restrict kids' access to tobacco products.
There is a general lack of data on the effectiveness of smoking cessation methods in adolescents, such as the use of a nicotine patch or nicotine gum, according to the researchers. More studies, including medication trials, ``are critically needed,'' they conclude. If more is not done to address the problem, ``smoking will retain its allure for adolescents and continue to exact costly individual and societal tolls.''