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U.S. Task Force Urges Docs to Counsel Kids Against Smoking
Date:12/10/2012

MONDAY, Dec. 10 (HealthDay News) -- Primary-care doctors should offer children and teens counseling and educational programs to prevent them from smoking, according to new recommendations issued by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.

This type of intervention is effective in preventing young people from lighting their first cigarette, found the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), which is comprised of national experts in prevention and evidence-based medicine.

Although the task force cannot mandate that doctors offer these anti-smoking interventions, the guidelines it issues tend to shape clinical practice and, in many cases, affect insurance coverage.

"As a pediatrician, I believe preventing tobacco use is critical in helping young people to live long, healthy lives," USPSTF member Dr. David Grossman said in a task force news release. "The good news is that primary-care clinicians can play an important role in preventing tobacco use among their young patients."

Every day, nearly 4,000 young people aged 12 to 17 smoke for the first time, and 1,000 young people also become daily smokers. Kids as young as 10 years old may be vulnerable to smoking, the recommendations noted. Although it may take up to two years for them to become addicted, some children become dependent on nicotine more quickly.

Being counseled by their doctor individually, with their family or in a group setting can help prevent children and teens from smoking, evidence showed. Talking on the phone with their primary-care doctor also can reduce kids' risk of using tobacco, the task force found.

Computer applications and mailed print materials, such as activity guides, newsletters and tip sheets, had significant effects on the decision to start smoking among children and teenagers. Even preprinted prescription forms with anti-tobacco messages helped prevent kids from smoking.

Patricia Folan, director of the Center for
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