Journal scan

Study finds novel smoking prevention programme in children had little effect

Intervention focused on ethics and exploitative tactics in the tobacco industry.

A novel smoking prevention programme had only limited effects in encouraging children to not smoke, a study has found.

Picture: iStock

A study evaluated answers from two groups of young people in school years seven to eight (aged between 11 and 13 years). The intervention group received the novel Operation Smoke Storm (OSS) programme, where children were given lessons and educational materials such as booklets that focused on the ethics and exploitative tactics of the tobacco industry as well as the harmful and addictive nature of smoking. The control group was not  given any educational materials or lessons on the risks of smoking.

The students in the OSS group were asked questions before and after prevention lessons in year seven and then a year later after a booster session in year eight. Completed questionnaires were received from 445 year eight students in intervention schools and 1,692 year eight students in control schools.

In intervention schools, the combined prevalence of smoking and susceptibility to smoking increased from 18.2% in year seven to 33.8% in year eight. There was no significant difference in the odds of a year eight student in an intervention school being a smoker or susceptible never smoker compared with the controlled group (adjusted OR (aOR) 1.28, 95%CI 0.83-1.97, p=0.263) and no significant difference in the odds of ever smoking (aOR 0.82, 95%CI 0.42-1.58, p=0.549).

The authors found that the OSS programme is an acceptable resource for delivering smoking-prevention education, but it does not appear to have reduced smoking and susceptibility.

Szatkowski L, Taylor J, Taylor A et al (2017) Evaluation of a novel intervention providing insight into the tobacco industry to prevent the uptake of smoking in school-aged children: a mixed-methods study. BMJ Open. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2017-018031


This article is for subscribers only