Youth-Targeted Smoking Cessation Programs Needed
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - As smoking continues to take its toll on individuals and society, a team of researchers is calling for new studies to investigate the causes of smoking among teens.
Research has shown that the majority of adult smokers picked up their habit as a teen. Indeed, about 75% of teens who smoke will continue to smoke as adults, researchers note.
Studies also indicate that many teens who smoke want to quit but cannot. Forty percent say they would take part in treatment programs and two thirds say they regret ever starting to smoke, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports.
But because most of the research on smoking cessation is focused on adults, there is a paucity of data on which to base smoking prevention and cessation programs for teens. These programs have had little success, possibly because adolescents have different reasons for picking up their smoking habit and different needs when it comes to quitting, write researchers in the June issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Adolescent Psychiatry.
``Smoking can become a way for adolescents to instantly appear independent and mature while fitting in with peers who smoke,'' explain Dr. Eric T. Moolchan with the National Institute on Drug Abuse in Baltimore, Maryland, and colleagues.
Their review of adolescent smoking studies found ''relaxation and pleasure, peer pressures, self-image, curiosity, stress, boredom, self-assertiveness, and rebelliousness'' all contribute to smoking among the nearly 43% of teens in grades 9-12 who have used tobacco.
The authors suggest that researchers investigate how teens become addicted to nicotine, measure the scope of teen smoking and determine whether smoking cessation aids such as the nicotine patch or antidepressant drugs can help.
``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 conclude.
``Short of this, smoking will retain its allure for adolescents and continue to exact costly individual and societal tolls.''