DETROIT While many might see the case for programs to prevent adolescent cigarette smoking as already made, a pair of Wayne State University researchers believes that due to increasingly challenging economic times, policymakers need to be reminded to continue allocating funding for such programs.
Xinguang Chen, M.D., Ph.D., professor of pediatrics in the School of Medicine, and Feng Lin, Ph.D., professor of electrical and computer engineering in the College of Engineering, have found a way to provide policymakers with some hard evidence.
Most adult smokers in the United States report trying their first cigarette before age 18, according to government statistics, with more than 80 percent of established smokers starting before high school graduation. Earlier initiation has been shown to be associated with greater smoking frequency and number of cigarettes smoked per day.
Only about 5 percent of established smokers ever quit completely, Chen said, making prevention in adolescence a critical and strategic priority for tobacco control.
"The number of smokers year to year at any given time is an accumulation of past experience," he said. "Our methodology has the power to glean that information from one cross-sectional survey, overcoming the limit to track people over time."
School-, community- and family-based prevention programs have been effective, he said, but evaluating their success at the national level has been a challenge because of the high cost associated with longitudinal data collection and blank groups for comparison.
"We get so much national survey data every year, but we cannot see the real impact of these programs, or get a feeling for the accumulation and meaning of smoking prevention knowledge they pass along," Chen said.
In "Exposure to School and Community Based Prevention Programs and Reductions in Cigarette Smoking Among Adolescents in the United States 2000-08," supported by fundi
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Wayne State University - Office of the Vice President for Research