NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Kids' Anti-Smoking Campaign A Failure

December 20, 2000

A $15 million program designed to prevent school children from smoking is a bust, researchers say. The program began in September 1984, and involved children and 640 teachers in 40 school districts in Washington state. According to a report in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute:

  • More than a fourth of the 8,388 former school children are now regular smokers, about the same percentage as those who didn't receive the special classes.
  • About 24.4 percent of girls and 26.3 percent of boys smoked by the 12th grade.
  • After high school, 28.42 percent of those in the experimental group smoked, compared with 29.07 percent for non-participants.
  • A federal survey out last week found 31.4 percent of high school seniors reported smoking at least once in the past month.

The anti-smoking program was based on a "social influences" approach to smoking prevention, including teaching skills necessary to ignore social pressures to smoke.

Source: Michelle Healy, "Anti-smoking Effort for Children is Failure," USA Today, December 20, 2000.

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