Learning Objectives: Describe the student-identified most effective strategies for preventing tobacco use among minors.
Abstract: Young people are routinely surveyed regarding their health behaviors, including their use of tobacco products. However, the opinions of young people regarding the approaches they believe to be the most effective methods to deter youth smoking have not routinely been incorporated into the design of tobacco-control programs. This is the case despite the fact that research has found that school-based anti-tobacco programs are more effective when young people are involved in their design and implementation.
In this study, 577 Knox County, Tennessee middle and high school students were surveyed to discover which policies young people believed would discourage them from smoking. Their perceptions of the effectiveness of a variety of approaches were evaluated, including: financial disincentives; information deficit- and social influences-based educational approaches; punishments for smoking; and incentives for not smoking.
Significant majorities of nonsmokers asserted that all of the proposed strategies would prevent them from smoking. A majority of smokers indicated that they would abstain from smoking only if the most severe punishments were imposed, if they had access to nicotine replacement products, or if they were involved in incentive programs that reward not smoking. Particularly in areas where youth smoking rates remain high but state and local governments are devoting little or no financial resources to solving the problem, it becomes critical to target any available monies to those anti-smoking efforts that are most likely to be successful. As the focus of these efforts, young people can offer policymakers important insights.
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