Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. Children are especially susceptible to smoking experimentation and initiation, with more than 3,800 children smoking their first cigarette between the ages of 12 and 17. In the article, “Primary Care Interventions to Prevent Tobacco Use in Children and Adolescents: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation Statement,” in the September 2013 Pediatrics (published online Aug. 26) new evidence has shown that primary care providers can provide simple, economical, and effective interventions to help prevent tobacco use among children and teens. The USPSTF recommends behavioral counseling with a health care professional either face to face or by phone, reading materials, computer applications and videos. Although most serious and life-threatening effects from smoking show up in adults, it is important for children and adolescents to understand that young smokers can suffer from impaired lung growth, early onset of lung deterioration, and respiratory and asthma-related symptoms. The USPSTF concludes that primary care clinicians can make a difference in helping young patients make a choice to not use tobacco. The evidence proves that these interventions can be successful in preventing tobacco use, and help children and teens live long, healthy lives.
The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 60,000
primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and
pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and
well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more
information, visit www.aap.org.