Systematic review of randomized controlled trials of smoking cessation interventions for youth

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Family Medicine and Community Health

Publication Date


Document Type



Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Preventive Medicine | Psychiatry and Psychology | Psychology | Substance Abuse and Addiction


Background: Cigarette use remains common among young people but little is known about how to help adolescent smokers quit. There are few systematic reviews of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that evaluate the effectiveness of cessation interventions for youth.

Objective: To synthesize knowledge on the effectiveness of cessation interventions targeted to youth based on evidence from RCTs.

Selection of studies and data extraction: We retained all published RCTs with intention to treat analyses that evaluated cessation interventions targeted to youth aged = 20 years. Relevant studies were identified from eight review articles of smoking cessation intervention studies published between 2002 and 2006, and from a search conducted in PubMed and PsycINFO databases from 2001 to November 2006. The outcome of primary interest was abstinence at the longest reported follow-up. Extraction of data was by consensus of the authors.

Results: We identified 16 RCTs with a total of 6623 participants; 11 studies that included 5764 participants evaluated behavioural interventions, four with 529 participants evaluated pharmacological interventions, and one with 330 participants evaluated a laser acupuncture intervention. Three of four behavioural interventions conducted in school settings, and one of four conducted in a health care setting significantly increased abstinence four weeks to 24 months after the interventions. Of four RCTs that evaluated pharmacological interventions using either bupropion or nicotine patch or gum, one study using the nicotine patch coupled with cognitive-behavioural counselling showed a marked albeit non-significant increase in abstinence six months after quit date.

Conclusion: There is still limited evidence demonstrating the efficacy of smoking cessation interventions in youth. Four school-based programs and one intervention in a health care setting have shown efficacy, while results for pharmacological therapy are inconsistent across studies.


youth, tobacco, cessation, smoking, better practice


Gervais A, O'Loughlin J, Dugas E, Eisenberg M J, Wellman R J, DiFranza J R. A systematic review of randomized controlled trials of youth smoking cessation interventions. Drogues Sante et Societe (Drugs, Health and Society) 2007; 6(1 Supplement 2): ii1-ii26. Link to article on publisher's website

PDF of article is available in English.

This systematic review has been reviewed for the Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects (DARE): Quality-assessed Reviews.

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Drogues Sante et Societe = Drugs, Health and Society