Some Programs Can Keep Kids From Smoking

Study finds family-based initiatives often work

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WEDNESDAY, Jan. 24, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- A number of different kinds of family programs can help prevent children from becoming smokers, according to a new review of research on the issue.

Reporting in the current issue of The Cochrane Library, the authors reviewed 14 studies and identified several kinds of successful smoking prevention programs, including one in Iowa that educated parents about substance abuse and encouraged them to set firm family rules about smoking, and another in Norway that emphasized children's freedom to choose.

Some of the successful programs were short interventions, while others were multifaceted approaches that required numerous sessions.

"I'd say that well-tested programs with enthusiastic counselors work" but "these programs are not sure-fire," lead author Dr. Roger Thomas, professor of family medicine at the University of Calgary, in Canada, said in a prepared statement.

Early research on school-based smoking prevention programs suggests that they were not adequate to prevent youngsters from smoking, so experts turned to family-based programs, noted Christine Jackson, a senior research scientist at the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation in Chapel Hill, N.C.

She wasn't involved in the review but led research on an effective childhood smoking prevention program in North Carolina that used mail-home activity guides, newsletters for youngsters, and prizes that made it fun for the children.

Smoking prevention programs that reach children well before middle school are most likely to succeed, Jackson said.

"Early onset of smoking is a known predictor of becoming a habitual smoker by late adolescence. That's the problem we are up against. The highest-risk kids are the early starters," she said in a prepared statement.

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about kids and smoking.

SOURCE: Center for the Advancement of Health, news release, Jan. 23, 2007

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