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Smoking prevention programs delivered in schools can be effective in reducing the number of future smokers, a review of studies suggests.

These programs appear to be successful in preventing young people who have never smoked from starting for at least one year, according to Science Daily.

Researchers from the University of Oxford in England analyzed 49 studies that included a total of more than 140,000 young people ages 5 to 18 who had never smoked. The studies found that after one year, the number of smokers was significantly less in groups that participated in smoking prevention programs.

“This review is important because there are no other comprehensive reviews of world literature on school-based smoking prevention programs,” study co-author Julie McLellan said in a news release. “The main strength of the review is that it includes a large number of trials and participants.”

Programs that taught young people to develop social skills, with or without training to resist social pressure to smoke, had a significant effect on preventing smoking in those who had never tried it. Programs that only taught skills to resist social pressure were not effective.

The review found booster sessions to reinforce the lessons of the programs were not helpful, unless they focused on social skills and peer pressure resistance training, the researchers report in The Cochrane Library.

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