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Pediatr Dent. 2006 Mar-Apr;28(2):177-87; discussion 192-8.

Tobacco use by adolescents: the role of the oral health professional in evidence-based cessation programs.

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  • 1Columbia University College of Dental Medicine, New York, NY, USA.


The use of tobacco products, especially cigarette smoking, represents the leading cause of preventable illness and death in the developed world. In the United States, major gains have been made to reduce smoking among adults. Similar gains, however, have not been realized with adolescents. In recent years, substantial interest has been directed to tobacco cessation studies with adolescents. The previously limited interest in adolescent cessation programs was attributable in large part to the mistaken assumptions that: (1) adolescent tobacco users were not dependent on nicotine and could stop at any time; (2) adolescents did not want to quit; and (3) adult tobacco cessation programs would be effective with adolescents. The need for programs to increase adolescent cessation attempts is underscored by the Healthy People 2010 goal that calls for an increase in tobacco use cessation attempts by adolescent smokers to 84%. Dental providers need to take steps to prevent tobacco use by adolescent patients. For those who are already addicted, they need to provide cessation counseling services or referral for appropriate treatment. The purpose of this paper was to provide dental clinicians with information on: (1) tobacco and health; (2) the epidemiology of adolescent tobacco use; and (3) tobacco cessation programs for parents and adolescents that can be implemented in the dental office setting.

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