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'Teen smokers want to quit but can't'

Most teenagers who smoke try really hard to kick the habit but are not successful, according to a new study.
By HT Correspondent | IANS, Washington
UPDATED ON JUL 17, 2008 08:00 PM IST

Most teenagers who smoke try really hard to kick the habit -- but are unsuccessful, according to a new study.

“Teen smokers make their first serious attempt to quit after only two-and-a-half months of smoking, by the time they have smoked for 21 months they have lost confidence . . .to quit,” said Jennifer O'Loughlin Université de Montréal, co-author of the study.

O'Loughlin analysed data from 319 teenagers who completed reports on their smoking habits every three months for five years. The study found that teen smokers progress through stages to stop smoking.

The study found that more than 70 per cent of the teens expressed a desire to quit, but only 19 per cent actually managed to stop smoking for 12 months or more by the end of the five-year study. Girls were more likely than boys to want to quit and to attempt quitting.

"These findings indicate that teenagers want to quit smoking," said. O'Loughlin. "We really need to develop and implement effective tobacco control interventions for young people, before it's too late."

Participants were aged 12 to 13 at the beginning of the study. For these novice smokers it took about nine months after their first puff to become monthly smokers; 19 months after their first puff to become weekly smokers; 23 months after their first puff to become daily smokers.

"These findings show that teen smokers want to quit and attempt to quit, but very few are actually able to stop for long periods" said Rob Cunningham, senior policy analyst, Canadian Cancer Society.

"This research suggests that much more needs to be done to prompt teenagers to quit in terms of programming, legislation and taxation. In particular, federal and provincial governments must get the contraband situation under control - cheap cigarettes discourage teen smokers from quitting. "

The results of the research have been published online Thursday in the American Journal of Public Health.

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