Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Effective Plans for Decreasing Adolescent Smoking


Fritz, Wider, Hardin, and Horrocks (2008) found that educating adolescents to the harmful effects of smoking as well as the contents of cigarettes, was successful in decreasing smoking. Teaching coping skills was valuable for adolescents, especially for use during smoking cessation (Jannone & O'Connell, 2007). Integrating these skills into school based programs was effective for smoking cessation (Jannone & O'Connell, 2007).

Focusing on Mental Health

Risk factors that may be associated with initiating smoking are anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, and attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) (Anda et al., 1990; Brown, Lewinsohn, Seeley, & Wagner, 1996; Hockenberry et al., 2011). It may be prudent to better educate children on mental health issues, self-care, and accessing resources for assistance when needed. Providing accessible mental health resources to adolescents could change their ability to monitor and maintain mental health. Future research is needed to further understand how to identify and mediate risk factors that contribute to smoking initiation in the younger population (Hockenberry et al., 2011). Ten to 15% of adolescents experience major depression and over nine percent are diagnosed with ADHD (Hockenberry et al., 2011). Monitoring the mental health of adolescents can be effective for reducing substance use and abuse.

Adopting Changes in Advertising

Since tobacco promotion has been aimed toward children, one strategy would involve the continued monitoring of tobacco companies' advertising campaigns and their political involvement. As discussed by Marks, Murray, Evans, & Estacio (2011), powerful provocative advertising campaigns encourage children to initiate and maintain smoking behavior. To combat the adverse effects of advertising, school programs can be designed to disseminate accurate information on the risks of smoking (Marks et al., 2011). Because smokers initiate tobacco use during adolescence (Hockenberry, Timmons, & Vander Weg, 2011) educating children to the dangers of smoking prior to the teenage years is crucial.

Parental Monitoring and Leisure Activities: Getting Adolescents Involved

Research has determined that what children do in their spare time and with whom they do it has a tremendous impact on their behavior such as smoking (Guo, Reeder, McGee, & Darling, 2011; Thorlindsson & Bernburg, 2006) . Involving adolescents in organized leisure activities has a generally positive effect on substance abuse and other risk-taking behavior (Thorlindsson & Bernburg, 2006). Furthermore, many organized activities help children develop socialization skills which may lead to a sense of self-efficacy and a decrease in antisocial behavior (Guo et al., 2011; Thorlindsson & Bernburg, 2006). These activities promote mental health and reduce risk-taking, which is a natural tendency in adolescence (Romer et al., 2011). It is understandable, however, that not all parents have the ability to adequately monitor their adolescents because of time and work constraints. In these circumstances, involving children in organized activities becomes more important. In any event, for health psychologists, understanding the effects of parental monitoring and adolescents' leisure activities on the initiation and continuation of smoking behaviors can inform successful strategies to deter or decrease smoking in this young population (Guo et al., 2011; Thorlindsson & Bernburg, 2006).

Creating Successful Strategies

Creating awareness of the political role of tobacco companies and their advertising campaigns geared toward children and focusing on the mental health of adolescents may contribute to decreasing smoking behavior. Educating children about the risks associated with smoking prior to and throughout adolescence has had a significant impact on smoking behavior (Fritz et al., 2008). Educating parents about the pitfalls of parenting adolescents and the positive effects of parental involvement, monitoring and organized activities may help reduce smoking in teens.


Anda, R. F., Williamson, D. F., Escobedo, L. G., Mast, E. E., Giovino, G. A., & Remington, P. L. (1990). Depression and the dynamics of smoking. A national perspective. [Abstract]. Journal of the American Medical Association, 264(12), 1541-1545.

Brown, R. A., Lewinsohn, P. M., Seeley, J. R., & Wagner, E. F. (1996). Cigarette Smoking, Major Depression, and Other Psychiatric Disorders among Adolescents. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 35(12), 1602-1610. doi: 10.1097/00004583-199612000-00011

Fritz, D. J., Wider, L. C., Hardin, S. B., & Horrocks, M. (2008). Program Strategies for Adolescent Smoking Cessation. The Journal of School Nursing, 24(1), 21-27. doi: 10.1177/10598405080240010401

Guo, H., Reeder, A. I., McGee, R., & Darling, H. (2011). Adolescents' leisure activities, parental monitoring and cigarette smoking - a cross-sectional study. Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy, 6(12). doi: 10.1186/1747-597X-6-12

Hockenberry, J. M., Timmons, E. J., & Vander Weg, M. W. (2011). Adolescent mental health as a risk factor for adolescent smoking onset. Adolescent Health, Medicine, and Therapeutics, 2, 27-35. doi: 10.2147/AHMT.S11573

Jannone, L., & O'Connell, K. A. (2007). Coping Strategies Used by Adolescents During Smoking Cessation. The Journal of School Nursing, 23(3), 177-184. doi: 10.1177/10598405070230030901

Marks, D. F., Murray, M., Evans, B., & Estacio, E. V. (2011). Health Psychology: Theory, Research, and Practice (3rd ed.). London: Sage.

Romer, D., Betancourt, L. M., Brodsky, N. L., Giannetta, J. M., Yang, W., & Hurt, H. (2011). Does adolescent risk taking imply weak executive function? A prospective study of relations between working memory performance, impulsivity, and risk taking in early adolescence. Developmental Science, 14(5), 1119-1133. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-7687.2011.01061.x

Thorlindsson, T., & Bernburg, J. G. (2006). Peer groups and substance use: Examining the direct and interactive effect of leisure activity. Adolescence, 41(162), 321–339.

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