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Some Schools Helping Kids Unhook the Smoking Habit


Nevertheless, some schools think they can help wean these easily hooked youngsters off what's sometimes called the cancer stick, since smoking is responsible for about one-third of all cases of cancer in America.

School health clinics in Multnomah County, Ore., have given a few students nicotine patches over the past three years, and a school in the Chicago suburb of Arlington Heights is considering it as well. Hurt and Jorenby both believe the Oregon distribution through school-based health clinics system is an option. "If they are smoking in school restrooms, then it becomes a public health hazard," Jorenby says.

Other educators don't think they should be responsible for this type of treatment. Richard Adams, MD, Dallas Independent School District medical director, says it's unlikely to happen in schools in the Dallas area. He says that no one has instituted a district-wide smoking cessation program for students.

"The board of education doesn't see our role as providing general health treatment," Adams says. "If a student is on a prescription from a physician that must be taken during school, then we will administer it. However, we feel something like using the nicotine patch should be the decision of the physicians and the parents."

Recently, the U.S. Public Health Service issued new guidelines making treatment of tobacco dependence a national priority. In a statement on the guidelines, Surgeon General David Satcher, MD, urged "every doctor, nurse, health plan, purchaser, and medical school in America" to make this No. 1 on their health care list.

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