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Helping Parents Quit Smoking in Pediatric Settings

Statement of Problem

Secondhand smoke exposure is a significant public health problem. More than 40% of children in the U.S. are exposed to secondhand smoke, increasing their risk of respiratory infections, asthma flare-ups and premature death. When parents quit smoking, they not only increase their own life expectancy by an average of 10 years and eliminate the majority of their children’s secondhand smoke exposure, they also decrease the likelihood of their children becoming smokers later in life.

Pediatricians are uniquely positioned to deliver intergenerational family services to educate and motivate parents to protect their children from secondhand smoke. Yet, very few parents who smoke and accompany their child to the pediatrician’s office are offered treatment or given advice to help them quit. Electronic health records (EHRs) and clinical decision support (CDS) systems may improve the quality and standardization of clinical interventions for tobacco cessation. In pediatric settings, outpatient-based multilevel interventions are emerging to address these barriers; the interventions combine pediatric clinician advice and behavioral counseling with navigation to pharmacologic cessation aids approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).


Next Steps

While these results are promising, Dr. Jenssen plans to improve the design and effectiveness of the CDS intervention and the overall approach to treating parents that smoke.

For the next phase, building upon preliminary work with the support of a multidisciplinary mentoring team, Dr. Jenssen and his team will develop carefully framed messages using a theory-based approach in order to encourage initiation of tobacco cessation treatment for parent smokers. The underlying hypothesis is that messages that leverage parents’ concern for their child’s health and that are delivered by pediatric clinicians will increase the number of caregivers who start tobacco cessation treatment. The project is funded through a career development award from the National Cancer Institute. More details can be found on the Parents Quit IT PolicyLab project page.

This project page was last updated in July 2019.

Suggested Citation

Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, PolicyLab. Helping Parents Quit Smoking in Pediatric Settings [Online] Available at: [Accessed: plug in date accessed here]. 

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