Somerville doctor given $4M to help parents stop smoking

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

What does it take to get parents to stop smoking?

How about $4 million?

Somerville's Jonathan Winickoff, M.D., M.P.H., of the MassGeneral Hospital for Children, has been awarded $4 million from the National Institute of Health for a national effectiveness trial to help protect children from secondhand smoke by encouraging parents to quit.

“We will evaluate a previously developed, pilot-tested, and theoretically based tobacco-control strategy aimed at helping parents quit smoking and eliminate child exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke and its associated diseases,” said Winickoff, who works at the MGH Center for Child and Adolescent Health Policy.

Winickoff’s team realized that, while much research has focused on smoking cessation initiatives in the adult clinical setting, parents may not have their own primary-care clinicians.

Even parents with their own physician often visit their child’s doctor more frequently than their own. Based on this knowledge, the team developed an intervention to address parental smoking in the pediatric setting, employing smoking cessation techniques including counseling, proactive referral to regional and national “quit lines,” and pharmacologic management of tobacco dependence.

Previous studies from Winickoff’s group have indicated that quitting smoking adds an average of seven years to a parent’s life, improves the health of the spouse, eliminates most of a child’s exposure to secondhand smoke, reduces poor pregnancy outcomes, eliminates the greatest cause of house fire mortality, and improves the family’s financial resources.

“This trial may help the nation take a family-centered approach to tobacco control, refocusing efforts on the young adults and children who will influence and form a future, healthier, non-smoking U.S. population,” Winickoff said.