- Almost 90% of adult smokers begin smoking at or before age 18.
- Initiation of daily smoking most often begins in grades 6-9, and smokers who begin at this age find it most difficult to quit.
- Seventy-four percent of occasional teen smokers and 65% of daily smokers want to quit, but only 1.5% of teens who have ever smoked have quit successfully.
School Based programs reduce youth smoking:
- Years of research on a variety of programs demonstrates consistent success in reducing tobacco use among teens. A recent review of more than 30 programs found up to a 20% reduction in existing youth smoking while also curbing the numbers of young people who start to smoke.
- Smoking prevalence among students in schools that did not have smoking intervention programs increased 1.5 times as much as smoking prevalence among students in schools that had smoking prevention programs and a community-based component.
- One program in particular, Life Skills Training, teaches students skills to resist pressures to smoke and enhances self-esteem. This program has been found to reduce smoking prevalence by 40-80% initially, with longer-term reductions of 20-25%.
- An evaluation of the Minnesota Smoking Prevention Program, a peer-led social influence intervention, found that after four years, the incidence of daily and weekly smoking was 35 to 50% lower than among control groups.
Guidelines for Successful Programs:
- Based on all available research, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued guidelines for school-based tobacco control programs, which include:
- Providing instruction about the short and long-term physical, mental health and social consequences of tobacco use, social influences on tobacco use, peer norms regarding tobacco use and refusal skills.
- Providing tobacco-use prevention education in kindergarten through 12th grade, with more intensive efforts in junior high or middle school that are reinforced in high school.
- Providing program-specific training for teachers and involve parents or families to support the school-based programs.
- Supporting cessation efforts among students and all school staff who use tobacco.
(1) National Institute on Drug Abuse. National survey results on drug use from the Monitoring the Future Study, 1975-1997. US Department of Health & Human Services. NIH publication #98-4345
(2) Stone SI, Kristeller, JL. “Attitudes of adolescents toward smoking cessation”. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 1992;14:405-407.
(3) “Guidelines for School Health Programs to Prevent Tobacco Use and Addiction”. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), CDC, Vol. 43, no. RR-2; February 25, 1994.
(4) Pentz MA, et al., “Longitudinal Effects of the Midwestern Prevention Project on Regular and Experimental Smoking in Adolescents”. Preventive Medicine 18;304-321, 1989.
(5) Murray DM et al., “Four and Five Year Follow-up Results from Four Seventh-Grade Smoking Prevention Strategies”. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 11(4); 395-405. 1988.