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The Boston Globe

Health & wellness

Doctors should be discussing smoking risks with teens, federal panel recommends

A government task force recommended on Monday that doctors discuss the dangers of smoking with all patients ages 10 to 17, citing evidence that children who learn about the dangers of smoking from their doctors will be less likely to become addicted to cigarettes. What may be most surprising to both parents and physicians is that such recommendations weren’t already in place.

“There was some uncertainly as to whether physicians could prevent smoking in children” back when the last recommendations were issued nearly a decade ago, said Dr. David Grossman, a senior investigator at Group Health Research Institute in Seattle who served on the US Preventive Services Task Force, which issued the draft guidelines. The panel reviewed 19 recent studies, which found that anti-smoking efforts helped regardless of whether a doctor had a face-to-face discussion with teens, handed them an educational pamphlet about smoking risks, or mailed materials to patients’ homes.

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