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Primary care interventions can keep youth from smoking

Tuesday August 27, 2013
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In a final recommendation, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has stated that primary care clinicians should provide interventions, including education or brief counseling, to prevent school-aged and adolescent patients from using tobacco.

Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, according to a task force news release. Each day, more than 3,800 children between ages 12 and 17 smoke their first cigarette, and 1,000 children under age 18 become daily smokers. Tobacco use not only increases the risk of early death but can lead to tobacco-related illnesses such as cancers, cardiovascular diseases and respiratory conditions.

"As a pediatrician, I believe that preventing tobacco use is critical in helping young people live long, healthy lives," task force member David Grossman, MD, MPH, said in a news release. "The good news is that we have solid evidence that primary care clinicians can help their young patients be tobacco-free."

Evidence shows that a variety of behavioral counseling interventions can reduce the risk that school-aged children and adolescents will start smoking cigarettes, according to the task force.

Education and counseling about the dangers of smoking and the importance of never using tobacco can be done in a variety of ways, including conversations with a healthcare professional in the office or by phone, either individually with a patient or in a family or group session; and through educational videos and print materials, such as activity guides, newsletters, workbooks and preprinted prescription forms with anti-tobacco messages.

"Many of these interventions are simple, low-cost and can be implemented in primary care," said task force member Susan Curry, PhD. "Even very minimal educational and counseling interventions, such as mailing materials to a childís home, can help to keep children and teens from starting to smoke."

Statement and supporting links: www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/uspstbac.htm.


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