Technical Paper 2:
Tobacco Control in Australia: making smoking history
Supporting parents and education
Convey the message that parents can help – by quitting smoking, by making homes smoke-free, by choosing appropriate films, videos and games, and by making it clear that they do not want their children to smoke for the sake of their health.
Nicotine interferes with catecholamine and brainstem autonomic nuclei development during the prenatal period of the rodent (equivalent to first and second trimester of the human); alters the neocortex, hippocampus and cerebellum during the early postnatal period (third trimester of the human); and influences limbic system and late monoamine maturation during adolescence. Research such as this suggests that exposure to tobacco smoke during pregnancy and adolescence when the brain is developing may be more harmful than previously appreciated.
A report published in the US Centers for Disease Control’s MMWR journal found that 60.9% of Year 9 to 12 students who ever smoked cigarettes daily had tried to quit smoking cigarettes, but that only 12.2% were successful.
Results of the New England Study and analysis of findings of a 28-year longitudinal study of the natural history of cigarette smoking, the longest running of its kind, both confirm the importance of parental smoking behaviours in the uptake of smoking by young people. Another 20-year follow-up study found that children whose parents quit while they were still young (younger than eight years of age) were much less likely to become smokers than children whose parents quit later (after eight years of age).
One possible mechanism for this effect is the impact that having a family member smoking has on perceptions of smoking as a common behaviour. Children whose parents smoke are more likely to overestimate the prevalence of smoking in the community, and such overestimates predict smoking uptake. Young people whose parents smoke also generally perceive it to be easier to get access to cigarettes, a factor highly predictive of uptake.
An Australian study has indicated that low parental attachment score is associated with an increased risk of adolescent smoking, regardless of ethnicity and parental smoking.
Analysis of data on 693 youths from a four-year, three-wave prospective study of a representative sample of Massachusetts adolescents (aged 12–17 years) has indicated that a household smoking ban in the parental home appears to lead youth to prefer smoke-free living quarters once they leave home.
A Swedish study suggests that teenagers in recent times are much more positive than previous generations about parents’ attempts to dissuade them from smoking.
Third-hand smoke refers to the tobacco toxins that build up over time – one cigarette will coat the surface of a certain room, a second cigarette will add another coat, and so on. The third-hand smoke is the substance that remains after visible or ‘second-hand smoke’ has dissipated from the air. A survey of US parents has indicated that beliefs about the health effects of third-hand smoke are independently associated with home smoking bans. Study authors conclude that emphasising that third-hand smoke harms the health of children may be an important element in encouraging home smoking bans.
In a detailed look at nearly 30 years of research on how television, music, movies and other media affect the lives of children and adolescents, a new study has found an array of negative health effects linked to greater use. The report found strong connections between media exposure and problems of childhood obesity and tobacco use. In all, 173 research efforts, going back to 1980, were analysed, rated and brought together in what the researchers said was the first comprehensive view of the topic. About 80% of the studies showed a link between a negative health outcome and media hours or content.
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A Norwegian study has found that sports participation in adolescence, and participation in team sports in particular, may increase the growth in alcohol intoxication during late adolescent and early adult years, whereas participation in team sports and endurance sports may reduce later increase in tobacco and cannabis use.
Bedroom televisions are a significant predictor of white teens engaging in smoking and sex, according to a new study by researchers at RTI International, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Middle Tennessee State University. The study, published in the September issue of the Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, found that white adolescents who had a television in their bedroom were more likely to regularly view mature-content television programs, have less parental oversight of their media practices, and initiate health risk behaviours, including cigarette smoking and sex. The study was funded by the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development.
Cover the medical, social, environmental and economic aspects of tobacco in the school curriculum and where appropriate in curriculum in tertiary institutions.
Encourage schools to promote and consistently enforce smoke-free policies (buildings and school grounds) for all members of the school community.
Encourage universities and other institutes of higher education to adopt smoke-free campuses, including outdoors.
A US study using hierarchical linear modelling has found that the enforcement of school tobacco policies, but not the comprehensiveness of those policies, was associated with fewer observations of tobacco use by minors on school grounds as well as lower rates of current smoking among students.
As of 20 April 2009, 855 colleges in the United States had implemented policies requiring residential halls to be smoke-free indoors. As of the same date, 305 campuses in the United States were totally smoke-free, indoors and out.
Make smoking a ‘classifiable element’ in movies and video games.
The Ontario Film Review Board has agreed to meet with youth representatives to discuss their concerns about smoking in movies. The teenagers want the board to consider each film's depiction of tobacco use when issuing its classified movie ratings. Source: Ontario teens lobby for stricter ratings of films with smoking, CBC News, 25 February 2009.