We're unable to sign you in at this time. Please try again in a few minutes.
We were able to sign you in, but your subscription(s) could not be found. Please try again in a few minutes.
There may be a problem with your account. Please contact the AMA Service Center to resolve this issue.
Contact the AMA Service Center:
Telephone: 1 (800) 262-2350 or 1 (312) 670-7827  *   Email: subscriptions@jamanetwork.com
Error Message ......
Resident Forum |

Residents Teach Young People That Smoking Is Not for Them FREE

John J. Whyte, MD, MPH; Mary Vest Mason, MD
[+] Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 1998;279(13):988A. doi:10.1001/jama.279.13.988.
Text Size: A A A
Published online

The tobacco industry has come under intense scrutiny during the past few years. It is hard to pick up a newspaper without seeing an article about newly released documents from a tobacco company outlining its efforts to influence young people to smoke. At the same time, tobacco industry lobbyists are negotiating with Congress to settle several lawsuits filed by states and individuals against the tobacco companies.

The American Medical Association (AMA) has set a goal of a smoke-free America by the year 2000, with a strong emphasis on preventing children and adolescents from starting to smoke. Despite the efforts of the AMA, the American Cancer Society, and the American Lung Association, almost 20% of teenagers are smokers and more than 80% have tried smoking at least once. Almost a billion packs of cigarettes are illegally sold to minors each year. Even more alarming is that of those teens who have tried to stop smoking, fewer than 5% succeeded. Clearly, physicians can and should do more.

The AMA-Resident Physicians Section recently launched a project to educate teens about the dangers of smoking. This project, entitled "Smoking Is Not for Me," sponsors a national essay contest for sixth through eighth graders. Students are encouraged to write a 300-word essay explaining why smoking is not for them. With a generous grant from the AMA's Educational and Research Foundation, we are able to sponsor prizes in every state. The contest has been a huge success; we have received more than 8500 essays from children in 33 states.

A vital component of this project goes beyond the essays. We have encouraged residents and fellows to go into schools to talk about the ill-health effects of smoking. We engage in a dialogue with students and discuss the reasons they should not smoke. We explain the health effects and even bring in diseased lungs so they can see a concrete example of how smoking destroys the body. When time permits, we go over respiratory physiology as part of their science classes. We are proud to report that more than 2000 students have been reached in these classroom presentations.

At a time when Hollywood and advertising agencies continue to portray smoking as an activity for glamorous people, physicians need to present a more realistic perspective. Teenagers need to understand the cumulative effects of smoking; they also need to build greater self-confidence so they are less susceptible to peer pressure. As young physicians, we are in a unique position to relate to these young, maturing adults. We are adult authority figures, yet we are still relatively close to their age and cultures. Our presence in the schools allows us to use this identity to combat smoking. When as many 6-year-olds can identify Joe Camel as can identify Mickey Mouse, we know we have a long, tough battle. However, it is a battle that we must pursue.

One of our most rewarding experiences in this program has been when a student comes up to talk to us at the end of the program and tells us, "You know, Doc, smoking is not for me." Let's do what we can to hear these words more often.




Also Meets CME requirements for:
Browse CME for all U.S. States
Accreditation Information
The American Medical Association is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The AMA designates this journal-based CME activity for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM per course. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. Physicians who complete the CME course and score at least 80% correct on the quiz are eligible for AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM.
Note: You must get at least of the answers correct to pass this quiz.
Please click the checkbox indicating that you have read the full article in order to submit your answers.
Your answers have been saved for later.
You have not filled in all the answers to complete this quiz
The following questions were not answered:
Sorry, you have unsuccessfully completed this CME quiz with a score of
The following questions were not answered correctly:
Commitment to Change (optional):
Indicate what change(s) you will implement in your practice, if any, based on this CME course.
Your quiz results:
The filled radio buttons indicate your responses. The preferred responses are highlighted
For CME Course: A Proposed Model for Initial Assessment and Management of Acute Heart Failure Syndromes
Indicate what changes(s) you will implement in your practice, if any, based on this CME course.


Some tools below are only available to our subscribers or users with an online account.

0 Citations

Related Content

Customize your page view by dragging & repositioning the boxes below.

Articles Related By Topic
Related Collections
PubMed Articles

The Rational Clinical Examination: Evidence-Based Clinical Diagnosis
Evidence to Support the Update

The Rational Clinical Examination: Evidence-Based Clinical Diagnosis
Original Article: Is This Woman Perimenopausal?