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1.
Centers for Disease Control.  Tobacco Information Prevention Source web site. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/mmwr4903fs.htm. Accessed March 24, 2000.
2.
Centers for Disease Control.  Tobacco Information Prevention Source web site. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/mmwr0598.htm. Accessed March 24, 2000.
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Resident Physician Forum
May 3, 2000

Residents Help Young People Understand the Truth About Tobacco

Author Affiliations
 

Prepared by Ashish Bajaj, Department of Resident and Fellow Services, American Medical Association.

JAMA. 2000;283(17):2312. doi:10.1001/jama.283.17.2312

As Joseph Lim, MD, pointed out in last week's Resident Physician Forum, smoking and other tobacco use continues to be a major health problem in the United States. Despite the efforts of many organizations to reduce youth smoking, almost 29% of high school students smoke, and more than 80% have tried smoking at least once.1 Of the 73% of teens who have tried to stop smoking, only 13.5% have succeeded.2 The need for early education about the health risks of smoking is highlighted by the finding that only 50% of eighth graders understand that smokers incur a health risk, and 68% of 12th graders understand the risks.1

American Medical Association Resident and Fellow Section (AMA-RFS) is working to address this problem and is looking for assistance from resident and fellow physicians. For the past few years, the AMA-RFS has worked to reduce tobacco use among children and adolescents by organizing contests designed to educate young people about the dangers of tobacco use. This year's contest, "Youth Telling the Truth About Tobacco," asks sixth through eighth graders to design an advertisement showing the hazards of tobacco use. Such "counter-ads" will be used to help children understand that advertising can often be misleading by glamorizing an unhealthy habit. The contest entrees are due May 31, 2000; the judging will begin in early June.

An important component of this project is the participation of residents and fellows who visit schools to make antismoking presentations and talk about the negative health effects of tobacco use. Participating residents are asked to engage in a dialogue with students, explain to them why they should not smoke, and with the use of visual aids, such as a diseased lung, provide an example of how smoking destroys the body. If time permits, residents can discuss respiratory physiology in science classes. Over the past 3 years, residents have made presentations to thousands of students.

As young physicians, we are often better able to relate to younger people and may be familiar with aspects of their culture. Residents may still remember the influence of peer pressure and the lack of self-confidence that many adolescents feel. Residents and fellows can assist with this program in the following ways:

  • Serve on a panel that judges the counter-ads. We need judges for each state that submits an entry and for national judging.

  • Make educational presentations at the schools about the dangers of tobacco use. The AMA-RFS has a 4-page guide to assist in preparing a presentation. The guide outlines the dangers of smoking and highlights the persuasion techniques of advertisers to encourage youth tobacco use.

  • Promote this contest at schools in your area. The AMA-RFS will provide an information packet containing contest instructions and ideas for encouraging participation.

To help promote the contest and for additional information on the Youth Telling the Truth About Tobacco program, please contact Gloria Robertson, Program Administrator, AMA-RFS, at 515 N State St, Chicago, IL 60610, or by e-mail at gloria_robertson@ama-assn.org.

References
1.
Centers for Disease Control.  Tobacco Information Prevention Source web site. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/mmwr4903fs.htm. Accessed March 24, 2000.
2.
Centers for Disease Control.  Tobacco Information Prevention Source web site. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/mmwr0598.htm. Accessed March 24, 2000.
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