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UNC study shows family-directed program can reduce adolescent tobacco, alcohol use

CHAPEL HILL - After the documented failure of the well-known and widely used DARE program and other efforts to prevent the start of alcohol, tobacco and drug use among teen-agers, parents and health professionals sometimes wonder if any such program can work.

Yes, and let's keep working on them, say public health experts at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with good reason. A family program they designed, implemented and evaluated reduced first use of tobacco among adolescents by about 25 percent in white teens for at least a year and possibly a lot longer, they say. When all teens in the study were included, the reduction was 16.4 percent.

The effort also helped discourage alcohol use.

"We had a national sample of pairs of adolescents and parents, which we randomly assigned to receive the program or not receive it," said Dr. Karl E. Bauman, professor of health behavior and health education at the UNC School of Public Health. "We gathered data from all the pairs before the program began and then at two points after it was finished, at three months and again at 12 months. The intervention had substantial effects in reducing beginning tobacco use among adolescents."

Related findings suggested the program also substantially reduced the number of adolescents who drank alcohol and smoked cigarettes, Bauman said.

A report on the continuing research appears in the April issue of the American Journal of Public Health. Besides Bauman, authors are Dr. Vangie A. Foshee, Dr. Susan T. Ennett and graduate student Katherine A. Hicks of the health behavior and health education department. Other authors are Drs. Gary G. Koch, professor of biostatistics at UNC, Michael Pemberton, now of the Research Triangle Institute, and Tonya S. King, now of Pennsylvania State University.

"Smoking has been identified as the single most preventable cause of premature death in the United States, and most people begin using tobacco pro
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Contact: David Williamson
David_Williamson@unc.edu
919-962-8596
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
29-Mar-2001


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