The Interwined Relationship between Tobacco Control and Educational Intervention in Schools

Smoking is possibly the greatest public health problem faced by not only Greece but also by all of Europe. Smoking as a health hazard affects adults, but also the more vulnerable groups, such as children and adolescents. Specifically, in Greece it is estimated that approximately 40% of the adult population smokes, while studies have shown that smoking rates among adolescents vary between regions and range from 10% to 50% in 15 year-old pupils, depending on their place of residence. Obviously, such smoking rates among Greek adults and adolescents, which are especially high in the urban areas, demonstrate that the necessity for the adoption of comprehensive tobacco control measures. Worldwide, numerous attempts have been made to counterattack the problem. Measures such as comprehensive smoking bans, heavier taxation, mass media campaigns, graphic warning labels on cigarette packs and advertising bans are all methods that have been used, and have been shown to reduce smoking effectively, especially when combined. On the other hand, research has indicated that intervention programmes targeting tobacco habits among young people may also have an effect, by changing smoking behaviour, or increasing the adolescents’ cognitive skills, which is an important part of increasing awareness.2 The methods employed in the intervention programmes aimed at adolescents play an important role; for example, approaches such as parental involvement or the creation of antismoking messages by the adolescents themselves have been found to reduce both smoking rates and the intention to smoke, immediately after the intervention among participants.3 Short-term school based intervention programmes have been used to promote a healthier lifestyle in children and adolescents in Greece in the past with positive results. One specific peer led study invited adolescents in three Greek schools to create and deliver oral and videotaped antismoking messages to other pupils. The initial findings of the assessment of this intervention showed that it produced changes in the pupils’ knowledge and behaviour and also in their intention to smoke, but the behaviour changes had disappeared three months later.4 Similar findings have been shown in large anti-smoking campaigns, where it was found that smoking rates declined sharply during the period of the campaign but rose again after.

Category: Volume 49, N 3
Hits: 554 Hits
Created Date: 15-09-2010
Authors: Constantine I. Vardavas , Gregory N. Connolly