Tobacco control for high-risk youth: Tracking and evaluation issues

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Most tobacco use rates for adolescents do not take into account high school dropouts or students involved in alternative school settings. Project IMPACT (Innovative Methods for Peers Actively Controlling Tobacco) was a tobacco use prevention and cessation program for high-risk youth that tracked 680 continuation high school students for 18 months. Tracking and attrition is of particular concern in research on smoking and drug use in youth due to the fact that those students who drop out of the original sample commonly are at greater risk for engaging in the problem behavior targeted by the intervention. Using Post Office services, third party information including place of employment and family members, telephone operator information, and school attendance staff, the project received completed surveys from 88% (n=599) of the original cohort. The project found that 50% of the students are current smokers (at least one cigarette during the 30 days preceding the survey). Further research is needed to find effective interventions for this high-risk population.

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