Impact of the Smokefree Class Competition

The Society for Prevention Research1 published standards to assist practitioners, policy makers, and administrators to determine which interventions are efficacious, which are effective, and which are ready for dissemination. The Smokefree Class Competition meets these standards and is therefore suitable to "go to scale".

Process evaluation

Several process evaluation studies have been carried out in the European participating countries demonstrating high acceptance and practicability of the programme2.

Outcome evaluation

Four studies all published in international peer reviewed journals have been realised to measure the effectiveness of the approach under real classroom conditions 3-7. A total number of 12,812 adolescents have been recruited for these studies. An overall analysis 8 showed that from baseline to follow-up test 12 to 24 months later smoking increased by 21.78 per cent points in the control group, compared to an increase of 16.02 per cent points in the intervention group. At follow-up 27.57% of the pupils from the intervention group, and 35.91% of the pupils from the control group are actual smokers (odds ratio (OR) = 1.61 (95% confidence interval: 1.43-1.81); p < 0.001).

A recent study on the effectiveness of SFC confirmed previous findings: SFC contributes to reduce the probability of progressing from experimental to established smoking 9.


In addition, a detailed cost-effectiveness study10 shows that SFC is a cost-effective school-based intervention, providing net benefits of 5.59 (direct net benefits) and 15.00 Mio. Euro (incl. indirect net benefits) for Germany only.


  1. Flay BR, Biglan A, Boruch RF, Castro FG, Gottfredson D, Kellam S et al. Standards of evidence: criteria for efficacy, effectiveness and dissemination. Prev Sci 2005; 6(3):151-175.
  2. Wiborg G, Hanewinkel R. Conception and process evaluation of a school-based non-smoking competition. Sucht 2001; 47(1):25-32 [German].
  3. Crone MR, Reijneveld SA, Willemsen MC, van Leerdam FJ, Spruijt RD, Sing RA. Prevention of smoking in adolescents with lower education: a school based intervention study. J Epidemiol Community Health 2003; 57(9):675-680.
  4. Hanewinkel R, Wiborg G, Isensee B, Nebot M, Vartiainen E. "Smoke-Free Class Competition": Far-reaching conclusions based on weak data. Prev Med 2006; 43(2):150-151.
  5. Schulze A, Mons U, Edler L, P�tschke-Langer M. Lack of sustainable prevention effect of the "Smoke-Free Class Competition" on German pupils. Prev Med 2006; 42(1):33-39.
  6. Vartiainen E, Saukko A, Paavola M, Vertio H. "No Smoking Class" competitions in Finland: their value in delaying the onset of smoking in adolescence. Health Promot Int 1996; 11(3):189-192.
  7. Wiborg G, Hanewinkel R. Effectiveness of the "Smoke-Free Class Competition" in delaying the onset of smoking in adolescence. Prev Med 2002; 35(3):241-249.
  8. Hanewinkel R. "Be smart--don't start". Results of a non-smoking competition in Germany 1997-2007. Gesundheitswesen 2007; 69(1):38-44 [German].
  9. Isensee B, Morgenstern M, Stollmiller M, Maruska K, Sargent JD, Hanewinkel R. Effects of Smokefree Class Competition 1 year after the end of intervention: a cluster randomised controlled trial. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 2010; in press.
  10. Hoeflmayr D, Hanewinkel R. Does school-based tobacco prevention pay off? The cost-effectiveness of the "Smoke-free Class Competition". Public Health 2008; 122: 34-41.

return to top of page

SFC listed on EPIC platform

The European Platform for Investing in Children (EPIC) is an evidence-based online platform which was launched in 2013. EPIC is managed by the European Commission and aims to provide information about policies, practices and programmes that can help children and their families face up to the challenges that exist in the current economic climate in Europe. click here.

Cluster randomised controlled trial on SFC published in JECH

A recent study on the effectiveness of SFC confirmed previous findings: SFC contributes to reduce the probability of progressing from experimental to established smoking. Click here

Best practice guide

Find a compilation of background, rules and hints for implementation of SFC. Click here.

A European school-based smoking prevention programme
Co-funded by the
European Commission