National Cancer Institute
Behavioral Research - Cancer Control and Population Sciences

Research Topics: Special Populations and Tobacco

Youth Tobacco Prevention and Cessation

Research funded by DCCPS has found that the pattern of nicotine dependence among youth does not parallel the model developed for adults. Contrary to past assumptions, adolescents who are not daily smokers still may encounter significant difficulty in quitting smoking. In order to assess adolescent tobacco cessation programs and inform future activities and research, NCI has formed collaborative partnerships with other NIH institutes and centers, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the American Cancer Society.

Currently, NCI funds research grants in the areas of youth and tobacco research, including prevention; experimentation; onset of regular tobacco use, dependence, and withdrawal; and cessation and treatment of tobacco by adolescents. Selected findings are highlighted below:

  • Researchers at Dartmouth Medical School reported a close link between tobacco promotional activities and adolescent smoking. Over time, the likelihood of smoking initiation is increased when an adolescent acquires a cigarette promotional item. Results suggest that elimination of cigarette promotional campaigns could reduce adolescent smoking.


  • Researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center found that the strongest predictive variables for smoking were rebelliousness and risk taking. The results suggest that smoking prevention programs should include the needs and expectations of rebellious and risk-taking youth, and should begin no later than fifth grade.

Last Updated:October 1, 2012

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