Intended for healthcare professionals


Failure of an intervention to stop teenagers smoking

BMJ 1999; 319 doi: (Published 09 October 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;319:934

Not such a disappointment as it appears

  1. Donald Reid, chief executive
  1. UK Public Health Association, London SW1P 2HW

    Papers p 948

    Given the recent upturn in teenage smoking,1 would the innovative West Midlands prevention programme, described in this week's issue (p 948)2 be the magic bullet so many have been waiting for? Alas, as the authors have convincingly shown, it turned out to be a blank. This is not surprising, since the methods used did not appear to correspond with the findings from decades of research into “effective” antismoking programmes for schools.

    Successful programmes have usually been based on the social influences theory, which involves persuading teenagers to develop the skills and commitment to resist cigarettes.3 Since success depends on working with socially interactive groups, the individualised computer component of the West Midlands programme would have had little to contribute.

    The programme's class lessons component focused …

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