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Effectiveness of School-Based Programs as a Component of a Statewide Tobacco Control Initiative—Oregon 1999–2000

August 10, 2001 / Vol. 50 / No. 31

Press Release

A new study from the state of Oregon and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that students in school districts funded to implement CDC’s school tobacco use prevention guidelines were about 20 percent less likely to smoke than students in non-funded schools.

The Oregon Health Division found that between spring 1999 and spring 2000, smoking rates among eighth graders declined significantly more in a self-selected sample of funded schools (from 16.6 to 13 percent) than in a comparison group of non-funded schools (from 17 to 15.7 percent).

In addition, among the funded schools, the study found a strong dose-response effect between how fully schools implemented CDC’s guidelines and how much smoking rates declined. Between 1999 and 2000 rates declined from 14.2 to 8.2 percent in schools with the highest implementation scores, from 17.8 to 13.9 percent in schools with middle scores, and from 17.1 to 15.6 percent in schools with the lowest scores. Smoking declines in the lowest-scoring schools were almost equal to the declines observed in non-funded schools.

"This study shows that comprehensive school programs really do work to prevent teen smoking and can be an effective part of a state’s effort to prevent and reduce tobacco use," said CDC Director, Dr. Jeffrey Koplan. "Along with good, tested curricula, we need strong policies that keep our schools tobacco-free, and the involvement of parents and the whole community are an important part of the package."

The Oregon study adds to a large body of evidence documented in the 2000 Surgeon General’s Report, Reducing Tobacco Use, that school-based programs, combined with community and media-based activities, can effectively prevent or postpone smoking onset in 20 to 40 percent of U.S. adolescents.

"Unfortunately, very few schools nationwide are implementing the major components of our tobacco use prevention guidelines," said Lawrence W. Green Dr.P.H, acting director of CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health. "We hope this latest study will motivate more schools to adopt effective comprehensive programs and implement them fully, as they were designed to be."

CDC’s school guidelines call for tobacco-free school policies, family involvement, community involvement, tobacco prevention curriculum instruction, teacher and staff training, and student tobacco use cessation support.

The Oregon study appears in the August 10 issue of CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

More information about CDC’s school health program activities can be found at CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health Web site.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) protects people’s health and safety by preventing and controlling diseases and injuries; enhances health decisions by providing credible information on critical health issues; and promotes healthy living through strong partnerships with local, national, and international organizations.

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