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Pilot Study Aims to Stop Teen Tobacco Dependence

February 28, 2014 —

Dr. BlancherThere are approximately 3.1 million adolescents who smoke. The problem is that the human brain does not fully develop until people reach their mid-20’s, and so tobacco use is especially harmful to adolescents. Furthermore, almost 90% of adult smokers started when they were teenagers, explained Suzan Blacher, an assistant professor in the online RN-BSN Program at the College of Nursing and Health Professions.

Efforts to promote awareness and research on teenage tobacco use have been relatively underserved, according to Blacher. To remedy that, she initiated a new program at the Family Recovery Specialists Center in Miami to work hands-on with teen smokers to help them reduce or stop their dependence on tobacco at an early age.

The program’s accompanying pilot study, “An Adolescent Tobacco Dependence Intervention and Cessation Program,” was one of 14 projects from across the nation selected by the American Psychiatric Nurses Association. Blacher, who is a member of the APNA, submitted a proposal that underscored her pilot program has having “significant potential to reduce and/or eliminate tobacco use among those living with addictive disorders.”

Through the program, teen participants will have access to different resources that include yoga stress management, educational seminars, peer support, and even medical support. “We are hoping to test participants for CO2 levels in the beginning of the program. CO2 levels usually come back to normal when an individual stops using tobacco,” she said. Blacher will also be offering mobile and online resources to better meet the needs of the participants. The program is educationally based, with an emphasis on teaching participants the effects of tobacco on their health and development.  

Blacher has been a Smoke Free member of the American Lung Association and has run a tobacco dependence group in the past. With her background as a certified addictions nurse, Blacher hopes that her experience will help her set up a successful program that will be a step in the right direction for teenagers with tobacco dependence.

The pilot program will last for approximately eight weeks, running through September 2014. At the end of the program, Blacher will collect results and observations and present the findings at the APNA’s annual national conference. 

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