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Task Force: Doctors Should Advise Against Tobacco Use

Update Date: Aug 26, 2013 09:47 AM EDT

Even though pre-teens and teenagers might seem to be rebellious children who do not listen, studies have shown that these kids will listen to the right kind of counseling. By educating children on drug and alcohol use, as well as other risky behaviors such as unprotected sex, children will be more informed during the decision making process. In a new report, the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) is recommending that doctors counsel their adolescent patients about tobacco use.

The USPSTF's new recommendation replaces the previous conclusion in 2003 that found little evidence for or against medical counseling as a tool in preventing youth tobacco use. . For these new guidelines, the researchers did a systematic evidence review of multiple trials that aimed to study effective ways of preventing people from picking up the smoking habit. Based from these trials, they found that counseling or interventions by primary care professionals was effective in helping children avoid smoking.

The researcher reported that primary care-relevant behavior-based interventions were able to lower youth's risk of smoking by 19 percent during the follow-up, which took place between six and 36 months after initial meeting. Primary care-relevant counseling includes educating children as well as their parents on these habits.

"We are pleased to be publishing these recommendations simultaneously with Pediatrics," said Christine Laine, MD, MPH, FACP, editor-in-chief of Annals of Internal Medicine reported by Medical Xpress. "Youth tobacco prevention is an important public health issue that requires layered intervention. Internal medicine physicians who treat both adolescents and adults are uniquely positioned to provide education and counseling to children and their parents."

In the United States, smoking is the number one cause of preventable deaths, killing around 443,000 people every year. Smoking prevention is extremely important for young adults because they are considered to be one of the most vulnerable groups of people when it comes to smoking initiation. Every single day, around 3,800 American children as well as adolescents from 12 to 17 will smoke their first cigarette. For around 1,000 of them, the first cigarette becomes one of many as they will continue the habit and start smoking every day.

"We now know that the smokers that have the most difficulty quitting are the smokers that start in their teenage years and smoke into young adulthood. Those are the smokers that may never be able to quit smoking, and that's recent data," says Dr. Len Horovitz, an internist and pulmonary specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City according to TIME. Horovitz was not on the panel. "It seems incumbent upon pediatricians and internists who have experience with these patients to counsel those patients at exactly that time."

The recommendations were published in the Annals of Internal Medicine and in Pediatrics.

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