Study Identifies Ways to Cut Teen Smoking by Nearly One-Third

Intense antismoking campaigns and a $1 cost increase per- pack of cigarettes could drastically reduce the number of young smokers in the U.S.

Intense antismoking campaigns and a $1 cost increase per- pack of cigarettes could drastically reduce the number of young smokers in the U.S.

Seattle, Wash.: Targeting teenagers with concentrated antismoking education campaigns and increasing the current cost of a pack of cigarettes by $1 could reduce the number of teenage smokers by 26%, helping more than 108,000 people in the U.S. survive to age 85, new research suggests. The study conducted by researchers at Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center and the University of Washington Child Health Institute will be published in the August issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

More than 80 percent of people who smoke as adults began before age 18. In 2000, approximately 27 percent of men and 23 percent of women were smokers at age 18. By the time this group turns 85, the researchers estimate more than 412,000 will die of smoking-related diseases. By comparison, drug abuse takes 20,000 lives annually.

"The number of lives that potentially could be saved due to smoking-prevention initiatives overshadows nearly all other public health measures," said Frederick P. Rivara, M.D., M.P.H., of the University of Washington Child Health Institute, and a pediatrician at Harborview Medical Center. "Reducing adolescent smoking won't cut smoking-related death rates for decades, but the size of the effect is great enough to make the attempt."

Dr. Rivara and fellow researchers analyzed results from antismoking campaigns and other deterrents used across the U.S. in the last ten to fifteen years.

"School-based programs are unable to decrease the long-term smoking incidence among adolescents and smoking bans and sale restrictions to minors haven't helped either," Rivara says. "However, analyzing previous research, we found that raising cigarette prices and disseminating concentrated multimedia antismoking campaigns does reduce adolescent smoking."

Rivara adds that the campaigns need to be repeated every year as new groups of children enter their teen years. Large, statewide multimedia campaigns in Massachusetts and California cut smoking rates by 6 percent to 12 percent.

To receive the full text of the study findings or to schedule an interview with Dr. Rivara, please call Jennifer Seymour, Media Relations Manager, Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center, at 206-987-5207 or email

About Seattle Children’s

Seattle Children’s Hospital, Foundation and Research Institute together deliver superior patient care, advance new discoveries and treatments through pediatric research, and raise funds to create better futures for patients. Consistently ranked as one of the top 10 children’s hospitals in the country by U.S. News & World Report, Seattle Children’s Hospital specializes in meeting the unique physical, emotional and developmental needs of children from infancy through young adulthood. Through the collaboration of physicians in nearly 60 pediatric subspecialties, Seattle Children’s Hospital provides inpatient, outpatient, diagnostic, surgical, rehabilitative, behavioral, and emergency and outreach services to families from around the world.

Located in downtown Seattle’s biotech corridor, Seattle Children’s Research Institute is pushing the boundaries of medical research to find cures for pediatric diseases and improve outcomes for children all over the world. Internationally recognized investigators and staff at the research institute are advancing new discoveries in cancer, genetics, immunology, pathology, infectious disease, injury prevention, bioethics and much more.

Seattle Children’s Hospital and Research Foundation and Seattle Children’s Hospital Guild Association work together to gather community support and raise funds for uncompensated care, clinical care and research. The foundation receives nearly 80,000 gifts each year, from lemonade stand proceeds to corporate sponsorships. Seattle Children’s Hospital Guild Association is the largest all-volunteer fundraising network for any hospital in the country, serving as the umbrella organization for 450 groups of people who turn an activity they love into a fundraiser. Support from the foundation and guild association makes it possible for Seattle Children’s care and research teams to improve the health and well-being of all kids.

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