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Eur J Public Health. 2015 Apr;25(2):210-5. doi: 10.1093/eurpub/cku203. Epub 2014 Dec 8.

Tobacco-free schools as a core component of youth tobacco prevention programs: a secondary analysis of data from 43 countries.

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1 Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Center for Global Tobacco Control, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02115, USA
2 Department of Oral Health Policy and Epidemiology, Harvard School of Dental Medicine, Boston, MA 02115, USA.
3 Department of Community Health and Primary Care, College of Medicine, University of Lagos, Idi-Araba, Lagos State, Nigeria.
4 Department of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02115, USA 5 TIMI Study Group, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA 02115, USA.



Preventing tobacco use is a key aspect of health promotion during adolescence. We assessed prevalence and impact of school-based tobacco prevention programs in 43 countries.


We performed a secondary analysis of national data of students aged 13-15 years (Global Youth Tobacco Surveys) from 43 countries during 2005-2011. National surveys of the corresponding school personnel (Global School Personnel Surveys) were performed in each country during the same year as the student surveys. Data on status of enforcement of national smoke-free school policies were obtained from the 2008 and 2009 WHO MPOWER reports. Logistic regression was used to measure ecologic-level associations between school-based tobacco prevention programs and tobacco-related knowledge and behaviour among students (P < 0.05).


The proportion of students who were taught in class about the dangers of tobacco use during the school year ranged from 31.4% (Georgia) to 83.4% (Papua New Guinea). For every 10% increase (country level) in the proportion of teachers who reported having a tobacco prevention curriculum in their school, the odds of students reporting exposure to education in class about the dangers of tobacco increased by 6.0% (AOR = 1.06; 95% CI: 1.04-1.08). However, didactic education in class about the dangers of tobacco use was not independently associated with student current cigarette smoking behavior. Conversely, the likelihood of being a current smoker was significantly lower among students in countries with moderate/strongly enforced national smoke-free school policies compared with those in countries with poorly enforced/no national smoke-free school policies (AOR = 0.59; 95% CI: 0.45-0.76).


Comprehensive tobacco prevention programs that include well-enforced smoke-free school policies may help reduce youth smoking.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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