The most rational way to reduce tobacco-related cancer deaths is to prevent the initiation of tobacco use. Most users begin their habit during adolescence. Programs in schools have the potential to influence long-term behaviors, since schools reach more individuals consistently in this age group than does any other institution, and young people are exposed to the health education in their formative years. Yet school-based programs to date have been uneven in quality as well as in success and, in general, the interventions that have been used have affected only small numbers of youth. In addition, the long-term efficacy of the interventions has not been adequately tested. The STCP s school-based program is testing 9 intervention strategies in rural, urban, and suburban areas. About 300,000 students in grades 6 through 12 are targeted through this research effort.
The majority of individuals who have stopped smoking over the past 2 decades, perhaps as many as 95%, have done so on their own, not by using formalized smoking cessation resources, and most current smokers state that they would prefer to quit smoking by using self-help methods. Many resources to help the smoker quit have been developed in the past 10 years. Pamphlets, manuals, books, audiotapes, and other materials are available. These products are not costly and are accessible to virtually all.
The STCP has funded 7 self-help intervention projects and affects over 200,000 individuals. This research includes the development and testing of manuals, assessments of stress, and social support factors in the maintenance or relapse of self-quitting, and evaluation of the use of nicotine chewing gum through self-help efforts. The effectiveness of individual vs support group efforts to stop smoking and the impact of worksite efforts are also being studied.