Study identifies predictors of smoking discontinuation in novice adolescent smokers

(Medical Xpress)—Among new adolescent smokers, boys were more likely to discontinue smoking than girls, and both boys and girls who found package warning labels to be intimidating were also more likely to stop, according to a study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

"Currently, few longitudinal studies identify factors that help or hinder young smokers to stop ," said Jennifer O'Loughlin, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Social and Preventive Medicine at the University of Montreal in Quebec, Canada. "In our study, we learned that male sex, older age, cigarette package warnings, and participation in team sports helped with smoking discontinuation, while family stress, worry about weight, being overweight, illicit drug use, and cravings for cigarettes hindered."

Of the students who participated in the Nicotine Dependence in Teens (NDIT) study and who smoked at least occasionally, were 80 percent more likely to discontinue smoking than girls, and older adolescents were 30 percent more likely to discontinue than younger adolescents. Participants who said cigarette package warnings made them afraid to smoke and those who participated in team sports were 44 percent and 40 percent more likely to quit, respectively.

"Overall, these results support that healthy family habits, which include nonsmoking as the norm as well as positive exchange and functioning, will help novice smokers discontinue smoking," said O'Loughlin. "Parents who smoke should understand the effects of their smoking on their children, and families should work together or with professionals to identify and reduce sources of family stress. Parents should engage their children in sports and other healthy activities.

"It is imperative that we better understand the factors that promote smoking discontinuation in girls compared with boys, so that we can design gender-specific interventions," she added.

O'Loughlin and colleagues next plan to develop a nomogram, a short screening tool, to help health practitioners distinguish between youths who likely need intervention to help them stop smoking from those who do not.

From 1999 to 2000, students ages 12 or 13 from 10 secondary schools in Montreal were enrolled in the NDIT study. Of the 1,293 participants, 706—262 boys and 444 —who reported smoking at enrollment or who initiated smoking during follow-up were included in this study. After collecting baseline data including self-report questionnaires and anthropometric measurements, the researchers collected follow-up data every three months for the next five years, until the participants completed secondary school. The analysis included data for 620 participants.

Forty-three percent of the participants' parents smoked, 87 percent had friends who smoked, and 78 percent reported often seeing their teachers or other school staff smoking.

The researchers found that 40 percent of the study participants discontinued smoking during follow-up. Discontinuation was defined as a student reporting no cigarette smoking in at least four consecutive follow-up cycles over a one-year period.

Students who reported family stress, who worried about weight, who were overweight, who used illicit drugs, who had higher tolerance to , or who had other nicotine dependence symptoms were 10 to 30 percent less likely to discontinue smoking.

"The predictors we identified make good sense and several are amenable to intervention, which is good news," said O'Loughlin.

Related Stories

Why do young adults start smoking?

date Sep 17, 2013

The risk of becoming a smoker among young adults who have never smoked is high: 14% will become smokers between the ages of 18 and 24, and three factors predict this behaviour.

Recommended for you

DNA blood test detects lung cancer mutations

date 14 hours ago

Cancer DNA circulating in the bloodstream of lung cancer patients can provide doctors with vital mutation information that can help optimise treatment when tumour tissue is not available, an international group of researchers ...

Tumors prefer the easy way out

date 17 hours ago

Tumor cells become lethal when they spread. Blocking this process can be a powerful way to stop cancer. Historically, scientists thought that tumor cells migrated by brute force, actively pushing through whatever ...

Brain tumors may be new targets of Ebola-like virus

date 17 hours ago

Brain tumors are notoriously difficult for most drugs to reach, but Yale researchers have found a promising but unlikely new ally against brain cancers—portions of a deadly virus similar to Ebola.

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.