UIC Awarded $8 Million to Study Teen Stop-Smoking Programs

04/04/2003

The University of Illinois at Chicago has been awarded $8 million to identify and evaluate smoking cessation programs targeted at adolescents who typically do not benefit from traditional adult-oriented cessation programs.

"There is an enormous gap in information about what programs work for youth and young adults, and what programs may actually be harmful," said Susan Curry, director of the UIC Health Research and Policy Centers and principal investigator of the study. "This project will identify the best and worst practices in youth smoking cessation programs across the United States and provide direction for the future."

The Helping Young Smokers Quit project, a four-year initiative funded by a grant from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, will evaluate existing smoking cessation programs for young people and make recommendations for future programming and research.

Researchers will compile information on existing youth cessation programs in 408 communities across the United States to help identify the most promising and effective methods for helping young smokers quit successfully. The researchers will then evaluate a diverse subset of the programs, comparing them on key variables such as treatment methods, populations served, and the context in which services are offered.

There are at least 4 million smokers under 18 in the United States, and another 2,000 who become regular tobacco users each day, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Existing research suggests that most young smokers want to quit, but often try to do so on their own and fail.

Among those programs that do treat young people, there is a variety in smoking-cessation approaches, including voluntary and mandatory treatment models, FDA-approved adult pharmacotherapies, telephone quit lines, and innovative programs involving the Internet and CD-ROMs.

Most programs, however, have never been evaluated specifically for their effectiveness with youth. By identifying the most effective cessation programs, the Helping Young Smokers Quit project will assist states, communities, schools and youth organizations to optimize their efforts when limited resources are available.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Office on Smoking and Health and the National Cancer Institute are providing additional financial support for this initiative.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, based in Princeton, N.J., is the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to health and health care. It concentrates its grantmaking in four goal areas: to assure that all Americans have access to quality health care at reasonable cost; to improve the quality of care and support for people with chronic health conditions; to promote healthy communities and lifestyles; and to reduce the personal, social and economic harm caused by substance abuse -- tobacco, alcohol and illicit drugs.

This news release was written by Sherri McGinnis of the UIC News Bureau.