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Respir Physiol. 2001 Oct;128(1):103-18.

Susceptibility of youth to tobacco: a social ecological framework for prevention.

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  • 1Department of Anthropology, University of Colorado at Denver, PO Box 173364, Denver, CO 80209, USA.


For most smokers, tobacco dependence begins in childhood or adolescence. This review summarizes the state of social science with respect to the prevention of tobacco use. Social ecology is introduced as a theoretical framework useful for organizing prevention approaches. In recent years, the field has shifted from approaches directed at individuals, towards appreciation of additional, more comprehensive social and environmental influences on initiation. These range from intra-individual factors (including physiological responses to nicotine and the psychology of use) to individual, interpersonal, organizational, community, and population factors affecting access and demand. This review highlights prevention approaches that address social and societal influences, from school programs that attempt to change susceptibility of individual youth to tobacco, to community projects, media campaigns, restrictive policies, and tobacco pricing. The most promising approaches are those designed with input based on extensive formative research including studies with youth, directed at multiple levels of the social ecology, and sustained over time with significant resources and ongoing, multi-sector inputs.

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