Study Develops 12-Item Tool to Predict if Teens Will Smoke

(U.S.) – A study in the November 2018 issue of Pediatrics examines the accuracy of a 12-item tool that could be used by clinicians to identify teens who are likely to start smoking tobacco within the next year.

The study, “A Tool to Identify Adolescents at Risk of Cigarette Smoking Initiation,” (published Oct. 1 online) narrowed down variables to develop the tool after analyzing data from a study that followed 1,294 Montreal-area students – initially age 12 to 13 – from 1999 to 2005.

Self-report questionnaire data were collected every three months during each 10-month school year. The variables that served as predictors for taking the first puff of cigarette smoke included smoking habits of family and friends; lifestyle factors; personality traits; and mental health. The study did not measure the use of electronic cigarettes.

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The authors propose that clinicians use this tool to identify teens who need counseling to prevent that first puff, which could portend a long-term course of smoking with lethal consequences. The website for the tool:

Editor’s Note: A solicited commentary, “Screening Tools for Who Will Start Smoking and the Future of Clinical Prediction,” will be published in the same issue of Pediatrics.

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