These guidelines were based on a review of research studies that found 19 percent fewer young people started smoking after a range of prevention programmes. More than 26  000 children and teenagers took part in the various trials.

The researchers found that 50 children would have to be counselled to prevent one from trying cigarettes over the next seven months to three years.

“Ninety percent or so of smokers initiate smoking prior to (age) 18, so to really prevent smoking you have to address the teenage and older child population,” Dr David Grossman, a member of the task force from Group Health Research Institute and the University of Washington in Seattle (United States) said in a Reuters Health report. “This is really good news that primary care clinicians can play a role in this.”

The studies looked at everything from home mailings and phone calls to group counselling sessions with kids and their parents.

“A variety of approaches appear to work. The most important thing is that clinicians do raise the issue as part of well-child care,” Grossman said, noting that counselling can be quick and inexpensive.

Researchers at the Kaiser Permanente Centre for Health Research in Portland, Oregon, conducted the review supporting the new guidelines, which is published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Source: Reuters Health

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