A randomised controlled trial of a school-based intervention to prevent tobacco use among children and adolescents in Italy

Giuseppe La Torre, Giacomina Chiaradia, Lea Monte, Claudia Moretti, Alice Mannocci, Daniele Capitanio, Maria Ferrara, Adele Gentile, Domitilla Di Thiene, Elisabetta De Vito, Antonio Boccia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aim: A randomised field trial was conducted to evaluate a school-based programme to prevent tobacco use in children and adolescents. Subject and methods: The trial included 534 children and 308 adolescents who were randomly selected to receive or not to receive the prevention programme. The prevention programme included: (a) health facts and the effect of smoking, (b) analysis of the mechanisms underlying intiation of smoking and (c) refusal skills training to deal with the social pressures to smoke. A questionnaire was administered before the intervention programme and 2 years later. Results: The prevalence rates of smoking in both groups of children and adolescents were increased at the end of the study. Anyway, the difference of smoking prevalence between the intervention and control groups was statistically significant only for the children's group (from 18.3 to 18.8% for the intervention group and from 17.8 to 26.9% in the control group) (p = 0.035). As regards reasons that induced the start of smoking, there was a significant increase of the issue "because smokers are fools" (p = 0.004 for children; p <0.001 for adolescents) and "because smokers are irresponsible" (p ≤ 0.001 for both children and adolescents) in the experimental groups. Conclusion: The results suggest that a school-based intervention programme addressing tobacco use among children and adolescents, based on the development of cognitive and behavioural aspects, can be effective. After 1 year of intervention, smoking prevalence was significantly lower in children belonging to the intervention group than in children not randomised to intervention. Targeting young children before they begin to smoke can be a successful way of prevention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)533-542
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Public Health
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2010


  • Prevention programme
  • School-based
  • Smoking
  • Tobacco

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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