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Interventions can prevent tobacco use among youth

Tuesday December 11, 2012
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The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has posted a draft recommendation statement on interventions to prevent tobacco use among children and adolescents.

Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, the Task Force noted in background information for the statement. Each day, more than 3,800 youth ages 12 to 17 smoke their first cigarette, and 1,000 children under age 18 become daily smokers.

Education and brief counseling in primary care settings can prevent children and teens from starting to smoke, according to available evidence. Effective interventions, according to the statement, include private or group/family face-to-face interactions with a healthcare professional; telephone counseling with a clinician; print materials, such as activity guides, newsletters, tip sheets, workbooks and preprinted prescription forms with anti-tobacco messages; and educational videos.

"The good news is that primary care clinicians can play an important role in preventing tobacco use among their young patients," Task Force member David Grossman, MD, MPH, said in a news release. "Many of these interventions are brief, low-cost and easy to implement in primary care with potentially lifesaving results for these teens."

Based on strong evidence, the Task Force also recommends that clinicians screen all adults and pregnant women for tobacco use and provide services to help them quit smoking.

The Task Force’s draft recommendation has been posted for public comment through Jan. 7, after which the group will develop its final recommendation. To read more about the draft recommendation and to comment, visit www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/draftrec3.htm.

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