Adolescent Smoking (Encyclopedia of Public Health)
In 1999, the Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that 35 percent of U.S. high school students were smokers and only 13.5 percent of them quit during high school. This represented a large increase since 1991, when 27.5 percent of high school students smoked. These facts frame key public health issues: Youth start smoking before the legal age, and therefore need societal protection from unreasonable influences (e.g., marketing) that encourage them to smoke. Teenagers tend to become more addicted than they expect, and they have trouble quitting.
Health-promotion programs to teach skills for managing social influences regarding smokingor more broadly focused on life skillsave shown only modest success. Few if any effective cessation programs are currently available. In general, however, prevention programs are more effective if combined with comprehensive community programs for tobacco control. Multicomponent programs addressing individual, interpersonal, and organizational levels of behavior are likely to be the most effective because they influence the societal and cultural context in which adolescent smoking occurs. Regulations that increase price, control sales, or create nonsmoking areas can also help reduce adolescent smoking rates.
(SEE ALSO: Advertising of Unhealthy Products; Behavior, Health-Related; Enforcement of Retail Sales of Tobacco; Smoking Behavior; Smoking Cessation; Tobacco Sales to Youth, Regulation of)