Skip to main content

28-11-2013 | Respiratory | Article

Teenage girls with asthma need smoking cessation support


Free abstract

medwireNews: Researchers say that adolescent girls with asthma who smoke may need significant support to help them quit the habit.

Data from British Columbia in Canada show that teenage girls with asthma became physically dependent on tobacco more quickly than girls without the condition, but boys did not show any difference in dependency according to asthma status.

“Given that youths with asthma have rates of smoking similar to those of youth without asthma, the gender-specific tobacco dependence profiles revealed in this study may provide important directions for the prevention and treatment of tobacco use in this particular population,” say Su-Er Guo (Chang Gung University of Science and Technology College of Nursing, Chiayi, Taiwan) and colleagues.

The team used data from the 2004 British Columbia Youth Survey on Smoking and Health to identify 1248 current and experimental smokers, of whom 8.7% had asthma. The mean age was 15.9 years.

Tobacco dependence – defined as a strong desire or need to use tobacco, withdrawal symptoms during cessation, and loss of control over its use – was measured using the modified-Fagerström Tolerance Questionnaire (m-FTQ) for adolescents and the Adolescents’ Need for Smoking Scale (ANSS).

Boys scored slightly but significantly higher on the former survey (2.58 vs 2.34 in girls), indicating greater tobacco dependence, but girls scored higher than boys on the physical dependence on tobacco, social, emotional, and sensory ANSS subscales.

Factors independently related to high m-FTQ scores included having a best friend who smoked and current tobacco use in both genders, as well as marijuana use and age of first tobacco use in boys, and lifetime cigarette use in girls.

In multivariate analyses, having asthma was significantly associated with score on the physical dependence on tobacco subscale of the ANSS among girls. Asthma status was not associated with any ANSS subscale among boys, nor the remaining three subscales among girls.

Writing in Heart and Lung, Guo et al say that the development of tobacco dependence is one of the most important factors for the persistence of tobacco smoking in young people.

“It appears that girls with asthma who smoke are more physically dependent on nicotine, or have more ‘full-fledged’ nicotine addiction, compared with girls without asthma who smoke,” they write.

They say the findings, if confirmed by further research, support the early use of interventions such as nicotine replacement therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy in teenage girls with asthma who wish to stop smoking, as well as strategies to prevent girls with asthma taking up tobacco use in the first place.

medwireNews ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2013

By Kirsty Oswald, medwireNews Reporter

Related topics