Adolescent smoking: epidemiology and approaches for achieving cessation

Paediatr Drugs. 2003;5(1):1-10. doi: 10.2165/00128072-200305010-00001.


The initiation of smoking typically occurs during adolescence. To date, most adolescent smoking control efforts have focused on prevention; attempting to identify and influence factors that contribute to experimentation and initiation. However, given the large number of adolescent smokers, it is important that effort also be directed toward facilitating cessation. Many adolescents are addicted to cigarettes and report withdrawal symptoms that are similar to those experienced by adults. Relapse rates are high; few adolescents who try to quit on their own are successful. Clinician-delivered smoking cessation interventions have a positive impact in adults and should be applied to adolescents to promote and sustain abstinence. Although pharmaceutical aids for cessation have been shown to be well tolerated and effective in adults, less is known about their use in adolescents. As such, clinicians are encouraged to explore whether pharmaceutical aids have been approved for use in adolescents in their country and to use discretion when considering their use in patients <18 years of age. Because pediatricians are in a unique position to facilitate tobacco cessation counseling, they should routinely ask their patients whether they use tobacco, advise users to quit, assess readiness to quit, assist with quitting, and arrange follow-up counseling. Tobacco cessation efforts can be enhanced by teaming with other health professionals (e.g. nurses, dentists, pharmacists, social workers) or worksite and community-based organizations that provide health promotion services.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Health Education
  • Humans
  • Smoking / epidemiology*
  • Smoking Cessation / methods*
  • Smoking Cessation / statistics & numerical data
  • Smoking Prevention
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / prevention & control