Peer influence can help reduce tobacco use
New York: Researchers have found that participating in a brief intervention delivered by their peers in community settings can help youth and adolescent to reduce smoking. The intervention can be an important tool in outreach aimed at preventing regular tobacco use in an age group heavily targeted by industry marketing, the researchers said.
"If we can find ways to encourage them to stop smoking before their addictive behaviours become hard wired, we have a much better chance of getting ahead of the enticing methods tobacco companies constantly devise to reinforce lifelong use of their products," said Elisa Tong, physician at University of California Davis Health.
The study, published in the Journal of Community Health, also showed that the most effective tools in the intervention were informational conversations about the consequences of smoking and a "quit kit" of behaviour-replacement activities.
For the study, nearly 30 high school and college students provided five to ten minute intervention, which included one-on-one education, motivational messages, the "quit kits" and referrals to quit-smoking resources.
Over a four-year period, the team, recruited and trained by the Sacramento Taking Action Against Nicotine Dependence (STAND), delivered the intervention to 279 younger smokers at booth set up at many different places.
Follow-up calls were made to 76 participants three times within six months to collect information and determine whether or not the intervention worked. Results showed that the quit rate for people who participated in the intervention was 12.5 per cent at six months, given that only about 5 per cent of smokers are typically able to quit on their own.
"Tobacco-cessation efforts aimed at newer smokers often don't work, likely because they are based on what works for longer-term smokers versus younger smokers who identify as social smokers," said co-author of the study Kimberly Bankston-Lee, senior programme director of STAND.
"One of the key differences with our approach was the comfort factor. Younger smokers were able to interact with people their own age in locations where they all typically hang out," Bankston-Lee added.