School anti-smoking lessons ineffective

July 19, 2006 at 5:37 PM
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CALGARY, Alberta, July 19 (UPI) -- Anti-smoking lessons in the classroom to keep schoolchildren and teens from lighting up are not effective, a Canadian researcher says.

Study leader Dr. Roger Thomas of the University of Calgary in Alberta reviewed 23 high-quality randomized controlled trials that examined the effectiveness of school-based smoking prevention programs taught to school children ages 5 to 18.

The majority of these studies took place in the United States, Canada, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

Several tobacco-education programs were evaluated, including information-giving education programs in which students learned about smoking and its risks; social competence programs that taught students behavioral skills, such as goal-setting, to help them learn to avoid smoking; social influence interventions, which helped students discuss ways to say no to smoking and make public commitments to not smoke; and combinations of these programs.

While "there is some evidence that school programs incorporating social influence models can affect smoking behavior in the short term," they were not statistically significant, the reviewers wrote in The Cochrane Library.

Currently, about 70 percent of U.S. middle school students and 50 percent of U.S. high school students receive tobacco prevention education.

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