Prevention Of Smoking

The prevention of tobacco use in children and adolescents requires a multi-pronged approach that targets the social environment, as well as individual behaviors (Bonnie, 2001; Lantz et al., 2000; Lynch & Bonnie, 1994; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1994a). Individual behavior change strategies include school-based prevention programs, computer-based systems, and peer-based interventions (Lantz et al., 2000). Pediatricians and other health professionals also have an important role to play in preventing smoking initiation (Hymowitz, Schwab, & Eckholdt, 2001). Sussman, Lichtman, Ritt, and Pallonen (1999) reported that average reductions in smoking onset among youth generated by school-based prevention programs was about 6%, with a range of 0 to 11%. Programs that focused on teaching young people resistance skills to deal with social and other influences to smoke were most successful and had a longer lasting impact (Lantz et al., 2000). At the environmental level, mass media campaigns and policies aimed at restricting access to cigarettes, increasing the price of cigarettes, restricting cigarette advertising, and creating smoke-free facilities decrease smoking initiation in young people (Lantz et al., 2000).

Community interventions target multiple systems, institutions, or channels simultaneously to influence individual behaviors and community norms.

The results of a small number of controlled trials of community intervention attest to their ability to have a positive effect on youth smoking behavior. The effectiveness of school-based interventions is enhanced when they are included in a broad-based community effort, and the impact of community interventions may be enhanced if they are combined with strong advocacy, taxation, media, and policy interventions (Lantz et al., 2000).

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