April 25, 2001
Contact: Bonnie Widerburg, (971) 673-1282
Technical Contact: Mike Stark, (971) 673-0607
School-based tobacco prevention programs reduce student smoking
A new study shows that the school-based component of Oregon's tobacco prevention program is making a significant difference among eighth graders, public health officials at the state Department of Human Services announced today.
"These new findings show that beyond a doubt, Oregon's anti-tobacco program is working," said Grant Higginson, state health officer at the Health Services. "We now have fewer adults and kids using tobacco, and consumption is down more than 20 percent in our state."
The study, conducted by the Health Services in Oregon middle schools in 1999 and 2000, focuses on dramatic declines in tobacco use among eighth graders. The findings:
- Overall, smoking in schools with funded prevention programs dropped by 22 percent, from 16.6 percent of students in 1999 to 13 percent in 2000.
- In schools with no funded prevention programs, smoking declined by 8 percent, reflecting the overall impact of Oregon's comprehensive tobacco prevention program and national efforts. These schools had a drop from 17 percent of eighth graders smoking in 1999 to 15.7 percent in 2000.
- Funded schools that did the best job of implementing Oregon's program had the largest reduction in smoking among eighth graders, 42 percent. This represents a drop from 14 percent of eighth graders smoking in 1999 to 8.1 percent in 2000.
"This is clear evidence that school-based programs aimed at preventing tobacco use are very effective when implemented properly. When schools conduct a full program, they can expect to see a large reduction in tobacco use among their students," says Ann Blaker, tobacco prevention and education program manager at the Health Services.
The most successful school programs rely on a multi-faceted approach to helping kids resist tobacco, says Blaker. These approaches include:
- Having policies in place that forbid tobacco use by youth and adults on school grounds and at all school events.
- Working with parents and community coalitions to prevent tobacco use.
- Promoting cessation for young people who have already started to use tobacco.
- Using proven anti-tobacco curriculums to teach children the dangers of tobacco use and the skills to refuse peer pressure to use tobacco.
Blaker attributes the decline in tobacco use among children where there is no school program in part to Oregon's overall comprehensive tobacco prevention and education program. "It's clear, there is an added benefit when schools are funded and fully implement the school-based tobacco prevention program. The study also shows that Oregon's statewide program, along with national efforts, is making a difference for everyone in terms of reducing tobacco use," she says.
Oregon's tobacco prevention and education program is a comprehensive effort to reduce the use of tobacco and exposure to secondhand smoke. It includes programs in local communities, schools, businesses, media and special populations. The program is funded by a tobacco tax increase approved by voters in 1996. Ten percent of the new revenue is allocated to tobacco use prevention and reduction. The Oregon Quit Line, a toll-free telephone call, is a cessation counseling service available to Oregonians. To quit tobacco for good, call: 1-877-270-STOP (English), 1-877-2NO FUME (Spanish), or 1-877-777-6534 (TTY).