Project on Smoking Prevention in Young People

Our school is taking part in a Medical Research Council (MRC) funded smoking prevention project to test an intervention designed to reduce smoking initiation in young people. It is a joint collaboration between Staffordshire University, the University of Leeds, 45 Staffordshire and Leeds secondary schools, and health departments.

The project involves a large group of students taking part in specially designed teaching sessions twice a year, from year 7 until year 10. In tandem, students’ views and experiences about smoking are tracked as they grow, from age 11-12 through to age 15-16. At the end of the project national recommendations on smoking prevention in young people will be presented.

The project website gives more information

Project Aims

The main research questions to be addressed are:

  • Can repeated implementation intentions related to refusing offers of cigarettes reduce smoking initiation rates in 11-16 year olds relative to a control group of adolescents?
  • What is the cost effectiveness of such an intervention?

What are implementation intentions?

Implementation intentions are simple if-then plans. In this research they are simple plans of how to refuse the offer of a cigarette.

The importance of tackling adolescent smoking initiation.

The negative health consequences of smoking are well known and quitting smoking at any age has health benefits. However, the greatest health benefits are associated with never smoking. Therefore interventions to help prevent individual starting smoking are particularly worthwhile. It is estimated that 90% of adult smokers started smoking before they reached 21 years of age. As a consequence interventions that target adolescents can have the greatest impact on health.