Feature Article

Teenage smoking: how can the GP help?

Colin P Mendelsohn



Teenage smoking is a very different behaviour to adult smoking. GP intervention is based on the 5As model of Ask, Assess, Advise, Assist and Arrange, modified for the specific needs of adolescents. A teen-friendly counselling style that leaves the quitting decision to the teenager and focuses on short-term effects is critical.

Key Points

  • Many teenage smokers want to quit but are unable to do so because they have little knowledge about the quitting process and many lack the skills to quit.
  • Symptoms of nicotine dependence develop in 70% of adolescents before they are smoking daily.
  • One-third of teenage smokers will die prematurely from smoking-related diseases.
  • GP intervention is based on the 5As model, modified for the special needs of adolescents.
  • Nicotine replacement therapy should be discussed if there is nicotine dependence and a readiness to quit.
  • Referring the teenager to Quitline or directing them to useful websites (e.g.www.OxyGen.org.au) should be considered.