Childhood and adolescent tobacco risk assessment - Clinical Briefs - Brief Article

Author: Carrie Morantz, Brian Torrey
Date: Dec 15, 2003

Physicians should screen for smoking risk factors in children beginning at age 10, according to an article on tobacco control by Sargent and DiFranza. "Tobacco Control for Clinicians Who Treat Adolescents" was published in the March/April 2003 issue of CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians and is available online at

Smoking remains the most common preventable cause of death in the developed world and is becoming an important cause of death in the developing world. The onset of tobacco use typically occurs during childhood or adolescence.

Physicians can develop a risk profile for tobacco use by a patient's response to 10 questions relating to exposure to social influences, attitudinal susceptibility, school performance, and parental attitudes about smoking. Teenagers who already smoke should be assessed for signs of nicotine dependence. Physicians should not assume that adolescent smokers are not interested in quitting; the results of six surveys have showed that 71 to 83 percent of teenaged smokers had attempted to stop.

Physicians should ask teenagers about tobacco use; advise tobacco users to stop; assess their willingness to stop; assist them in making a plan to stop; and arrange for follow-up.

COPYRIGHT 2003 American Academy of Family PhysiciansCOPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group

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