The rates of teenage cigarette smoking has facilitated an increase in the implementation of harm minimization strategies. While the current ‘quit’ strategies have had limited success, little is known about the application of new strategies to reduce teenage smoking based on harm minimisation. The aim of this study was to assess whether the use of harm minimisation strategies would work on Years 8 to 10 students who smoked. This evaluation comprised four major stages including: a literature review and stakeholder consultation; cross-sectional survey (n=1600); focus/nominal groups (n=250); and the development, trial and process evaluation of educational materials produced.
Key outcomes included the need to provide the opportunity for smoking adolescents to follow control strategies to reduce their smoking habits and eventually quit smoking. Findings showed that the majority of students rejected the traditional abstinence-based “don’t smoke” message and that a harm minimisation message was positively regarded by the majority of students as they believed it instilled responsibility to make their own decisions. Teachers, school administrators and smoking prevention stakeholders believed the harm minimisation curriculum materials developed were both acceptable and appropriate. In addition, a harm minimisation approach to reduce cigarette smoking among high school students is both feasible and may be an effective strategy to further reduce smoking-related harm.
The findings from the BRASH study were used to inform the Smoking Cessation for Youth Project (SCYP), a randomised comparison group intervention trial which tested the effectiveness of smoking harm minimisation strategies.
Professor Donna Cross
University of Michigan, United States, Professor Ken Resnicow
Associate Professor Marg Hall