Only 20% of Adolescent Smokers Received Assistance with Tobacco Cessation
According to data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last month, 80% of adolescent and young adult smokers ages 11-21 received no help from their health care provider for quitting smoking from 2004-2010. The data also showed that 31% of health care providers did not document the smoking status of their patients.
What Does This Mean?
Health care providers still have much progress to make in identifying tobacco use among their adolescent patients and offering help with quitting. CASAColumbia has found that nearly half of high school students have smoked cigarettes and nearly 1 in 5 are current cigarette smokers. Our report also shows that the rate of nicotine dependence is much higher among those who started smoking before age 21 compared to those who started smoking after age 21. In addition, adolescents who smoke at light levels, between 1 and 5 cigarettes per day, can also show symptoms of nicotine dependence.
How Can We Improve Prevention and Treatment?
Treatment for adolescent smoking usually involves counseling which enhances motivation and provides strategies for quitting and preventing relapse. Prevention includes education or brief counseling.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is giving families more options for obtaining health insurance coverage. This means that more adolescents are likely to visit a health care provider, and providers should be adequately informed about adolescent smoking prevalence rates and vulnerability to smoking. Moreover, new health plans are required by the ACA to cover preventive services, including education or brief counseling to prevent adolescents from starting to smoke. We hope that the majority of providers will document the smoking status of their adolescent patients and will take the lead in helping them quit.
Mark Stovell is a freelance blogger for CASAColumbia