TUESDAY, April 30 (HealthDay News) -- Smoking prevention
programs in schools do work, reducing the number of children and
teens who later become smokers, a large new review found.
Investigators analyzed data from 134 studies that included a
total of more than 428,000 participants, aged 5 to 18, in 25
Some types of programs were more effective than others and,
overall, kids who had already started smoking didn't seem to
Among youngsters who had never smoked, anti-smoking programs in
schools did not have significant effects within the first year.
However, over a longer period of time the number of smokers was
significantly lower among those who had smoking prevention programs
than those who did not.
When the review authors focused on a mixed group of youngsters
who had never smoked, had experimented with smoking and had smoked
and quit, they found that anti-smoking programs in schools had no
Some of the anti-smoking programs helped students develop social
skills or taught them to resist social pressure to smoke. In the
long term, programs that promoted social skills or taught social
skills in combination with tips on how to resist pressure to smoke
had a significant effect on preventing smoking in youngsters who
had never smoked.
No benefit was seen in programs that focused solely on resisting
pressure to smoke or on those that used information only or that
combined tobacco education with wider school and community
initiatives, the review authors said.
Anti-smoking program booster sessions had no effect on the
number of young people who later took up smoking, according to the
findings published April 29 in
The Cochrane Library.
"This review is important because there are no other comprehensive reviews of world literature on school-based smoking prevention programs," review co-author Julie McLellan, from the department of primary care health sciences at the University of Oxford in England, said in a journal news release.
"The main strength of the review is that it includes a large number of trials and participants. However, over half were from the U.S., so we need to see studies across all areas of the world, as well as further studies analyzing the effects of interventions by gender," she added.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more