Background: This study investigated the impact of the Drug Education in Victorian Schools (DEVS) program on tobacco smoking. The program taught about licit and illicit drugs in an integrated manner over 2 years, with follow up in the third year. It focused on minimizing harm, rather than achieving abstinence, and employed participatory, critical-thinking and skill-based teaching methods. Methods: A cluster-randomized, controlled trial of the program was conducted with a student cohort during years 8 (13 years), 9 (14 years), and 10 (15 years). Twenty-one schools were randomly allocated to the DEVS program (14 schools, n = 1163), or their usual drug education program (7 schools, n = 589). One intervention school withdrew in year two. Results: There was a greater increase in the intervention students' knowledge about drugs, including tobacco, in all 3 years. Intervention students talked more with their parents about smoking at the end of the 3-year program. They recalled receiving more education on smoking in all 3 years. Their consumption of cigarettes had not increased to the same extent as controls at the end of the program. Their change in smoking harms, relative to controls, was positive in all 3 years. There was no difference between groups in the proportionate increase of smokers, or in attitudes towards smoking, at any time. Conclusions: These findings indicate that a school program that teaches about all drugs in an integrated fashion, and focuses on minimizing harm, does not increase initiation into smoking, while providing strategies for reducing consumption and harm to those who choose to smoke.
Midford, R., Cahill, H., Lester, L., Foxcroft, D. R., Ramsden, R., & Venning, L. (2016). Smoking Prevention for Students: Findings from a Three-Year Program of Integrated Harm Minimization School Drug Education. Substance Use and Misuse, 51(3), 395–407. https://doi.org/10.3109/10826084.2015.1110173
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