Experts observe that pediatric healthcare professionals can play a prominent role in promoting a tobacco-free lifestyle among children and adolescents.
Denormalization is a strategy for changing social norms and reinforcing a public perception of tobacco use as a health-compromising, socially unacceptable behavior.
Karen Calabro, DrPH, Ramara Costello, and Alexander Prokhorov, MD, PhD, from M.D. Anderson Cancer Center (Houston, Texas), describes several ways pediatricians and other medical professionals can help their patients and their communities to see tobacco use as undesirable: through direct communication with patients and their families; by providing information and referrals for tobacco prevention and cessation programs; by setting personal examples of a tobacco-free lifestyle; and by advocating for stronger public policies aimed at reducing tobacco use and exposure.
"For years big tobacco has promoted its toxic product as what popular, successful, glamorous, attractive, confident, athletic, and independent people do. It is time to start re-claiming the truth. Use of a product that hurts you and everyone around you is not something that should be glamorized. Implementation of strategies to change public perceptions about tobacco have had substantial impact on reducing youth smoking-and have been vigorously fought by the tobacco industry. Pediatricians, as advocates for children's health, need to send strong messages to their patients and their communities to counter the tobacco industry deceptions," says Harold Farber, MD, MSPH, Editor of Pediatric Allergy, Immunology, and Pulmonology, and Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Section of Pulmonology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX.
The article has been published online ahead of print in Pediatric Allergy, Immunology, and Pulmonology, a peer-reviewed journal published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.